A longtime county official recently elected to the state legislature is taking another new job, this time with town government.
John Price was hired as the town manager of Bargersville, a full-time position in which he oversees day-to-day operations and the town’s 40 employees.
Price has worked or served as an elected official for county government for 36 years, most recently as an elected county commissioner. He resigned from his seat on the board last month after he was elected to serve as a state representative.
Price said Bargersville town officials asked him to take the $90,000-per-year position. His experience in local government was the top reason the town wanted him for the job, according to a news release from Bargersville.
His first concern was to be sure that the job would not conflict with his new role as a state representative, he said.
Other state lawmakers work full-time jobs, including a few who work for local governments, and Price talked to them about managing their time between work and the legislative session, which lasts January through April next year.
Price initially suggested starting work in the spring, after the legislative session was over. But town officials wanted him to start work sooner, he said. His first priority is to his work as a state legislator during the session. So he will be at the Statehouse for committee meetings and whenever the House of Representatives meets, and he will catch up on work with the town on evenings and weekends, he said.
Price also talked with three attorneys — a local attorney, the legal counsel for the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and an attorney for the Indiana House of Representatives — before he took the job. Each attorney said the town job would not conflict with his elected state position and taking the job is legal, Price said.
He had wanted them to look into whether he could be violating any type of conflict of interest laws. But since he is not elected to the town job, he is not holding two elected positions at once. And he is not serving in an elected role while also working for the same local government, which is not allowed under state legislation that takes effect next year.
“I did all the homework I could to make sure my bases were covered,” Price said. “If I thought there was anything wrong, I wouldn’t have considered it.”
Price said he also has considered whether anything he would vote for as a state lawmaker would be influenced or could be considered a conflict due to his job with the town. But as town manager, he is not able to vote on any issues the town would consider; he can only make recommendations to the town council, he said.
As a state representative, his job will be to represent most of Johnson County and part of Morgan County. He won’t be focused on one area. And hearing concerns about an issue from someone in the town is similar to hearing from residents. He would consider their opinion but vote based on what is best for all residents, Price said.
For example, he is working on a proposal that would require forming a town to go to a public referendum, instead of being approved by county commissioners. That proposal could impact Bargersville but is based on what he has heard local residents want, he said.
“It won’t be a matter of what is best for any particular person or thing, it’s what is best for the whole,” Price said.
If any conflict were to come up, he said, he would remove himself from the issue and any votes.
Price’s job as town manager will be to oversee the daily operations of the town, but town council members also have asked him to look into ways to make the town run more efficiently, such as by sharing services and purchases with other local governments.
He said he’s looking at starting a health clinic for town employees, similar to one the county started, considering whether any of the town’s positions can be consolidated and finding ways to partner with the county, Greenwood and possibly Morgan County to find ways to share and not duplicate services.
“I think it will be good, and I just want to go in and accomplish some things for the people of Bargersville,” he said.
Price has worked as the county highway director, planning director, sheriff’s office chief deputy and fleet director and also has served on the county council and White River Township Advisory Board. This year, he was elected to a two-year term as a state representative, with a salary of $22,616.46 per year plus per diem during legislative session.
“Because of John’s background in local government, he understands the complexity of government. With this knowledge, John is prepared to step into his new role as Bargersville town manager,” Bargersville Town Council President Rowana Umbarger said in a town news release.
Price started in his new position this week.