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Buffalo County addresses issue of retaining townships
As the state of Nebraska becomes more urbanized, you hear less about townships. Although, in small rural areas it is the designated form of government.
But some township leaders say it's time to get rid of the referendum.
It's up to voters in the November 2012 election to decide whether to retain or dissolve the township form of government
"It was on the ballot two years ago or four years ago and was defeated by, I think, the lack of anybody understanding it and not wanting to change," said Rod Dorothy.
Rod Dorothy is on the Rusco Township Board.
Typically, townships are known for having more control over rural town government, while the county has little control. But as towns become more urbanized the system is changing. Most townships' responsibilities include road maintenance or mowing which the county maintains.
"Kearney was a long ways away 100 years ago; it's not now," said Dorothy.
Currently, townships levy taxes for road maintenance and reimburse the county highway department for the work that is done.
"It's just a circle, basically. They're maintaining our roads anyway and then sending us a bill and then we collect some tax and then we pay the county to do it," said Dorothy.
There are 24 townships in Buffalo County, two townships maintain their own roads and according to the highway department the townships have unpaid bills of $20,000.
But the lack of running candidates is another reason why leaders want to dump the old way of doing.
"Out of 26 townships there was 18 in the last election that had no candidates whatsoever," said Buffalo County Supervisor Joseph Brayton.
There are 93 counties in the state of Nebraska, 67 of those counties do not have townships.
"They're going away so it's going to be strictly up to the voters to decide which way they would strictly like to do it," said Brayton.
"We don't have a lot of control over it anyway. They seem to maintain the road whenever they want to and just send us a bill," Dorothy said.
The issue will be on the ballot in just 4 weeks time. And if it passes, township supervisors will become commissioners. If the vote does not pass business will stay the same.
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