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Justices to review whether sewer lien can trigger tax sale

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The Indiana Supreme Court will review the question of whether a sewer lien placed on a property for unpaid bills is by itself sufficient for the property to be sold at tax sale to satisfy the debt.

Justices agreed to review the question when they granted transfer in In Re: The Carroll County 2012 Tax Sale Twin Lakes Regional Sewer District v. Steven E. Hruska, Virginia Hanna, and Equity Trust Company FBO #80677 and Carroll County, Indiana, by and through the Caroll County Auditor, 08S02-1402-MI-78.

Carroll Circuit Court ruled in favor of Steven Hruska and Virginia Hanna and removed their properties from a county tax sale list. Twin Lakes Regional Sewer District appealed, arguing that the trial court misread I.C. 13-26-14-4, but the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court ruling. The COA held the sewer district could sue to collect on the late fees but lacked authority to seek a county tax sale.

The statute explicitly says, “A lien under this chapter that is the only lien on a property may not be foreclosed.” The Court of Appeals opinion observed in a footnote, however, that the Indiana Regional Sewer District Association filed an amicus brief in the case arguing the “misinterpretation of Ind. Code § 13-26-14-4 by the trial court and its application to all collection processes ... is of paramount importance and will affect all sewer districts’ ability to collect unpaid sewer bills.”

The case is one of eight granted transfer by the Indiana Supreme Court for the week ending Feb. 7. The others are:


Justices rejected transfer petitions in 27 cases. The transfer disposition list may be viewed here.




 

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  1. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

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