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DLGF ordered to decide whether loan determination is unconstitutional

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The Indiana Tax Court Friday sent a case back to the Department of Local Government Finance for it to take another look at its approval of a $400,000 loan for a fire truck to be paid entirely by residents of a Morgan County township. Some residents argued that because the truck would be used by other townships, it’s unconstitutional to order them to be solely responsible for the loan.

In Dora Brown, Ben Kindle, and Sonjia Graf v. Department of Local Government Finance, 49T10-0912-TA-83, Gregg Township residents Dora Brown, Ben Kindle and Sonjia Graf challenged the DLGF’s final determination approving the township's loan resolution for the 2010 tax year. In 2009, the board passed a resolution under I.C. 36-8-13 allowing the township to incur a loan to purchase a fire truck because its 1992 frontline pumper was outdated and did not meet current regulations.

The petitioners argue that the final determination must be reversed because it is contrary to law, not supported by substantial evidence and in violation of their constitutional rights. The Tax Court heard arguments in the case in October 2011.

Judge Martha Wentworth affirmed the final determination in part, finding that the DLGF was not required to consider eight factors in a “needs analysis” as the petitioners argued because the loan was approved under I.C. 36-8-13. If it had been approved under I.C. 36-6-14(d), the eight factors would have to be considered.

Wentworth also declined the petitioner’s invitation to reweigh the evidence, to judge the credibility of the township’s witnesses, or to hold that the township should have presented some other evidence for the DLGF to consider.

She did remand the matter to the DLGF because it did not address the petitioner’s argument that its final determination violates Article 1, Section 23 and Article 10, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution. The petitioners argued that the determination wrongly requires the taxpayers of Gregg Township to bear the entire cost of the loan even though the fire department will use the new vehicle to respond to calls outside of the township. The DLGF must review the evidence, weigh it and make a determination on the matter, Wentworth held.

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

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  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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