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Clark County loses request to impose excess property tax levy

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Noting that the Clark County Council made the conscious decision to not levy the maximum amount of property taxes allowed by statute for the 2008 budget year, it cannot now claim that decision is somehow a data error that the Department of Local Government Finance could later correct, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Wednesday.

In Clark County, Indiana v. Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, 39T10-1102-TA-9, citing a nearly $4 million rainy day fund in 2007, the council decided not to tax homeowners the maximum amount permitted by law because it wanted to “take some of the burden off of the homeowners.” The DLGF advised the council at that time that such action would negatively impact what the county would be able to levy in the future based on a formula in the statute that incorporates a “use it or lose it provision.”  

The formula is cumulative in its effect. The “maximum permissible ad valorem property levy” calculated under the formula in one year provides the starting point for calculating the successive year’s “maximum permissible ad valorem property levy.” That provision has since been removed.

Clark County argued that the DLGF abused its discretion by arbitrarily and capriciously determining that the council did not make a data error, correctable under Indiana Code 6-1.1-18.5-14, when it approved its 2008 property tax levy for $2.7 million less than what was statutorily permitted. Second, Clark County argued that the DLGF contravened the law when it failed to apply retroactively the 2011 statutory amendment that eliminated the “use it or lose it” provision from the formula contained in Indiana Code 6-1.1-18.5-3. Third, Clark County claimed that the DLGF violated its due process rights.

Statute allows for correction of an objective error only, not a subjective error, Judge Martha Wentworth wrote. Despite the DLGF’s warning, the council proceeded to approve the property tax level for less than what was statutorily allowed in 2008.

“This was not an ‘error in data,’ nor was it even an error in interpreting data. Instead it was simply a failure on the part of the Council to plan for budgetary contingencies.”

The statute was not amended to eliminate the “use it or lose it” provision retroactively, Wentworth held. Also, the statute does not require DLGF to hold a hearing on Clark County’s level appeal and since the county did not provide any other legal analysis to support its claim that it has been deprived due process, Wentworth declined to reverse the DLGF’s final determination on that basis.

 

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  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

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  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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