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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under I.C. 36-8-13 allowing the township to incur a loan to purchase a fire truck because its 1992 frontline pumper was outdated and did not meet current regulations.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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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