Washington Township
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Written by Steve Buschmann


Township trustees have been an instrumental part of Indiana government since the 1852 Constitution. Trustees of the 1016 townships (currently 1008) were responsible in the late 1800's and early 1900's for operating the schools; maintaining roads and bridges and cutting noxious weeds; overseeing and assisting the poor; supervising elections and enumerating voters (males over age 21); collecting the dog tax and paying claims for livestock kills and rabies treatment;
burying civil war veterans and maintaining
abandoned cemeteries; maintaining and erecting partition fences between properties; serving as fire chief in unincorporated areas; maintaining libraries; and operating the Justice of the Peace courts.


Township government today has changed in many respects. Township trustees no longer control the schools or maintain roads and bridges. The trustee’s responsibilities for libraries and elections have been substantially reduced, although some responsibilities still remain. The Justice of the Peace courts have been replaced with Small Claims Courts in Marion County, which still function as a part of township government. Township government still provides fire protection and emergency medical services; maintains cemeteries; assists persons in financial distress; collects the dog tax and pays claims for livestock kills and rabies treatment; maintains partition fences; provides parks and recreation; and controls noxious weeds. Township government has also assumed the responsibility for assessing property taxation through the trustees in smaller townships and elected assessors in larger townships.
Throughout its existence, township government has remained close to the people it serves. It is the only form of government in Indiana where a citizen has the statutory right to speak at any public meeting of the legislative body on any matter to be considered by that body.