Bill would address township board vacancies

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 19 on a bill intended to address township board vacancies.

LB980, introduced by Wahoo Sen. Jerry Johnson, would establish a time frame for a township board termination procedure.

The township board form of government is used in 26 counties, Johnson said, and involves a three-member board with levy authority. He said state law provides for townships to oversee cemeteries and libraries and to provide fire protection, snow removal and other functions.

Johnson said it can take up to a year under current law to have a township board officially declared inactive.

“For those 26, we need this [bill] because we’re finding it hard to get people to serve on those township boards,” he said.

Under the bill, a county board could hold a public hearing regarding termination of a township board within 45 days of two or more vacancies occurring on a board. Notice of the hearing would be required for two consecutive weeks.

If no appointments were made within 45 days of the public hearing, the county board could adopt a resolution to terminate the township board. The bill also would authorize the county board to pay future obligations of the township until the township board was reactivated.

Saunders County Clerk Patti Lindgren testified in support of the bill, saying it is important to allow county boards to continue levying authority when a township board is inactive. Otherwise, she said, not everyone in the county is paying their fair share for county services.

Lindgren said it recently took three years to fill a township board in Saunders County, complete a budget and request levying authority.

“So, we went three years without any taxes being collected,” she said.

No one testified in opposition to LB980 and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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