Clay County Commissioners
Clay County Commissioners
DISTRICT 1 ( Brazil Township, Dick Johnson Township, Posey Township, Van Buren Township )
Bryan Allender (D)
DISTRICT 2 ( Cass Township, Jackson Township, Sugar Ridge Township, Washington Township )
Tony Fenwick (R), Vice President
DISTRICT 3 ( Harrison Township, Lewis Township, Perry Township )
Paul Sinders President (R)
Duties of the County Commissioners
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
The Board of County Commissioners constitutes the legislative body of most counties for ordinance making purposes.
A prospective Commissioner must reside in a certain district but be elected by a majority vote of the county. In Lake and St. Joseph counties, however, each of the three Commissioners is elected by the voters in his own district. Commissioner districts must be redrawn at least once every 10 years, and may be redrawn in any odd-numbered year.
The terms of office of County Commissioners are four years on a staggered basis. In general, the Board of County commissioners is responsible for the administration of all county business. The Commissioners may enact ordinances to meet local conditions and exercise other authority vested in the Board by the legislature. The base salary for the Commissioners is established by the salary ordinance.
General Powers and Duties: Examples of the functions of the Board of County Commissioners include:
1. Controlling, maintaining, and supervising county property, including courthouse, asylums, hospitals, library, jail, and the equipment and facilities incident thereto. 2. Auditing and authorizing of claims against the county.
Monthly Meetings: The law provides for the holding of regular monthly meetings by the Board of County Commissioners in each county. In many of the larger counties they meet more frequently. The schedule for regular meetings must be set at the first meeting in January.
General Powers of the Board of Finance: The Commissioners in their respective counties have the power at their meetings:
1. To make orders respecting the property of the county, in accordance with the law; to sell the public grounds of the county upon which the public buildings are situated, and to purchase, in lieu thereof, in the name of the county, other grounds in the county seat on which such buildings may be erected; and purchase land and care for such property.
Serves as Finance Board: The Treasurer and Board of County Commissioners serves as a County Board of Finance.
1. To designate banks as depositories of county funds after inviting the banks of the county to make their proposals to become depositories.
Authorizes Warrants: No warrant may be drawn by the auditor and no funds may be paid out of the county treasury in payment of any claim unless it has been fully itemized and its correctness verified by the claimant, or someone in his behalf, and filed with the Auditor more than five days before the first day of the session of the Board of County Commissioners at which payment is to be considered.
Adopts Rules: The Board of Commissioners must adopt regulations for the transaction of business and in the trial of cases it must comply, so far as practicable, with the rules for conducting businesses in the Circuit Court.
Maintains Courthouse, Offices, and Jail: The Commissioners must furnish and maintain a courthouse, jail, and public offices for the elected county officials. All records and papers required by law to be made by such offices must be kept and preserved and delivered to the respective successor of each office.
Audits Books: The Board of Commissioners must audit the books of the County Treasurer and County auditor, and compare the allowances with the stubs, vouchers, or registers of warrants drawn by the Auditor in payment of such allowances.
The Board also shall examine all warrants redeemed by the County Treasurer and turned over to the County Auditor, for which the County Treasurer claims credit, with the corresponding stubs, vouchers, or register, seeing that such warrants are properly canceled so they cannot again be put in circulation and that a proper accounting has been made between such officers of all funds. In practice, this function is exercised by the State Board of Accounts.
Issuance of Bonds: Whenever it is necessary to construct, complete, or repair the courthouse, jail, or other county buildings; construct grade separation structures, or whenever it may be desirable to fund or average any existing debt incurred for county purposes where revenues available from reasonable taxation are insufficient, the County Commissioners acting with the County Council may borrow money for that purpose. However, the total bonded debt of a county may not exceed 2 percent of the assessed valuation of the real and personal property of the county, and bonds can be issued only in accordance with restrictions and under condition set up in statues governing such actions.
The board of County Commissioners may, at its discretion, provide for the payment of interest on issues of bonds in annual or semiannual installments.
The Board of Commissioners provides by taxation for the annual payment of the interest accruing on all bonds sold.
Alters Watercourses: The Board of County Commissioners has the power to straighten or change the course, direction, or location of the channel of any stream or body of water, and to change any watercourse, or the flow of any stream or body of water within the limits of the county. However, this power is limited by rule and regulation of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The Commissioners are empowered to authorize the county highway supervisor to use county equipment on private property for ditching, grading, or hauling gravel for roads when the equipment is in the vicinity of such property. A schedule of charges is established for this work.
Establishes Parks: The Board of Commissioners is authorized to purchase or otherwise acquire, any lands within such county for park purposes, or to accept on behalf of the county, any lands which may be granted or conveyed to the county for park purposes and to make the necessary improvements thereon.
Constructs Public Halls: The Board of County Commissioners has the power to construct and maintain public halls and has power to purchase real estate on which to locate such halls and to raise revenue necessary by levying a tax on all property in the county subject to taxation.
County Commissioners are also authorized to join with the County Council and the City Council of the county seat in formation of a County Building Authority. This authority is empowered to finance, construct, and manage buildings for public or governmental purposes.
Constructs War Memorials: County commissioners may establish memorials, parks, and artificial lakes as World War memorials, either singly or jointly, with any city within the county.
Erects Historical Markers: The County Commissioners may provide for erection of historical markers upon petition received from local civic or historical organizations. Such markers and the inscription must be approved by the Indiana Historical Society.
Leases Surplus County Real Estate: County Commissioners have the power to lease surplus real estate belonging to the county for any public use approved by the Commissioners, including constructing, maintaining, and operating recreational facilities, such as public golf courses and public swimming pools, all at the lessee’s expense, provided that all improvements made to the leased real estate shall become the property of the county on termination of the lease. Prior to the execution of such lease, the real estate must be properly appraised and a public hearing held.
Property Sales by Public Auction: The Board of County Commissioners may not sell any county personal property with a value of $500 or more except at public auction.
Sale of Property to State: Whenever any county owns any real estate upon which is situated any courthouse, public office building, or any other building used for public purposes, which the state of Indiana may desire to buy, the Board of Commissioners may sell this real estate to the State of Indiana.
Poor Relief Duties: If any person believes he or she is entitled to assistance for the poor which a Township Trustee refuses to provide, the Board of County commissioners must grant such person a hearing, if requested, and if it deems proper, direct the Trustee to grant aid.
Any applicant for poor relief or any taxpayer of such county has the right of an appeal from the findings of the Board of County Commissioners to the Circuit Court or Superior Court of the county on the granting or rejection of any application and the modification of, or the failure to modify, any award.
The Board of Commissioners is authorized to estimate in advance the amount of money which will be required for the next 12-month period for the township relief of the poor of the various townships of the county in excess of the amounts which can be reasonably advance out of the general fund of the county for that purpose. The commissioners may include estimates of funds for this purpose in the general fund budget and the County Council may appropriate for such advancement in the budget and levy adopted by the council. The Tax Adjustment board must include the additional amount in the final tax levy for the general fund. The Board of Commissioners is directed to settle with the overseers of the poor (Township Trustees) in the several townships within the county, at least once in every year.
Regulates Food Establishments: County Commissioners may regulate and establish minimum standards for the operation of food establishments. Ordinances adopted in this manner must not conflict with those issued by the State Board of Health and are not effective in cities and towns maintaining their own health departments unless they elect to come under such ordinances.
Burial of Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines: County Commissioners are authorized to provide for the burial of members of the armed forces who have received honorable discharges and also for the spouse of the honorably discharged veteran. The maximum allowance is $100.
County Forests: The County Commissioners may levy taxes for the purchase and maintenance of county forests.
Community Mental Health Centers and/or Community Retardation Centers: County Commissioners are authorized to appropriate money to assist in construction and operation of community mental retardation and psychiatric treatment centers.
Regulate Smoking in Public Buildings: The "No Smoking" law prohibits smoking in any state or local government building unless it is in a designated smoking area. The law prohibits ordinances which are less restrictive than state law but allows more restrictive ordinances.
County Cemetery Commission: Authority is given County Commissioners to appoint a five-member County Cemetery Commission and establish a tax base for the purpose of restoring and maintaining cemeteries established before 1850, which are without funds or sources of funds.