The Indiana Constitution officially established the County Surveyor as an elected office. Like many county officials, the County Surveyor is elected to a four year term. Due to the technical nature of the position and the expertise required, the surveyor has no term limits.
The obligations of an elected County Surveyor are addressed in Indiana Code: Title 36, Article 2, Chapter 12, Sections 1 to 15.
Various Indiana Codes and Indiana Administrative Codes govern how a County Surveyor performs these obligations. The County Surveyor is also guided by Federal requirements (such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act) which are administered by agencies such as the US EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The County Surveyor is a county's technical authority on drainage. Every county has a Drainage Board, and every County Surveyor is an ex-officio member of the Board. This means the Surveyor manages the construction, reconstruction, vacation/removal and maintenance of all regulated drains and proposed regulated drains.
Indiana soils are not inherently conducive to farming. The soils are clay and the water tends to sit rather than drain making for a swampy environment. In the 1800's, Indiana farmers started to get together and create community drains which everyone paid to maintain. Today, Indiana county surveyors are responsible to ensure that these regulated drains function. This is of the utmost importance to the entire community to prevent flooding.
The Surveyor is responsible for the field investigations of drains, and develops drainage studies and technical specifications for work performed on tile drains and open ditches. They are responsible for reconstruction petitions, new drain construction, and Public Hearings concerning maintenance funds. They often supervise the investments of the assessments collected to support or maintain the Regulated Drain Infrastructure. Your County Surveyor works hard to try and protect citizens from flooding and drainage problems.
When development occurs in your county or community, the County Surveyor often works hand in hand with other community officials to ensure the existing residents are not negatively impacted. Their efforts help protect the neighbors upstream and downstream from pollution and flooding while the work is underway and after it is completed. The Surveyor deals not only with developers, but also with the people developers hire. These could be architects, attorneys, design professionals, engineers, environmental consultants, planners, project managers, surveyors and their technicians.
Whenever development occurs, be it a single family home on rural acreage, an entire subdivision, a strip mall, or an industrial park, the County Surveyor is there to help guide the process and review the plans.
Every deed, parcel, and legal land document in the State of Indiana is tied into the original survey performed in the early years of settlement. Section corner stones were set to mark each square mile of the State. In order to prevent gaps and overlaps of land ownership it is of the upmost importance that these markers are maintained.
The County Surveyor is tasked with the job of finding section corner stones, (by digging in roadways, yards and fields) referencing them by measurements to nearby structures, (such as utility poles, fence posts and buildings) and marking the location of the section corner at the surface (of the ground, roadways, etc.).
In each county there is a Section Corner Perpetuation Fund that consists of money collected by the County Recorder when deeds are recorded.
The County Surveyor must maintain a corner record book showing original government section corners, and is required to establish, locate, and reference at least 5% of the corners each year.
Your County Surveyor is a member and technical advisor to your County Plan Commission. They also advise various technical committees reviewing subdivisions, drainage plans, and development plans. They may also be a member of one of the various River Basin Commissions or Regional Planning Authorities established by the State. In each instance, the surveyor is there to serve as the citizens' advocate protecting their property and well being.
The Indiana Alcoholic Beverage Commission requires a state form to be signed by the Surveyor to verify the Business Location for ABC permits.
The Surveyor's office maintains information such as bench marks, USGS Topo Maps, Wetland Inventory Maps, Surveyors Records, aerials, and drain files.
On any given day, your County Surveyor and their staff may be in the field working on section corner perpetuation or on a county regulated drain. They may be in the office discussing the next big development coming to your county, or having a public hearing for a drainage board concern. They may be helping a constituent understand a land surveying description, or explaining technical specifications to a contractor on a construction project. They may be certifying an alcoholic beverage permit, or meeting with state and federal agencies concerning permit conditions for a regulated drain project.
The duties of your County Surveyor are many, but a large focus of what they do is meant to reduce flooding, while maintaining clean water in our lakes, ponds, regulated drains, rivers, streams and wetlands.