ILNews

Tax Court upholds agency's loan decision

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Tax Court has upheld a state agency's decision approving loans to fund fire department operations in a Morgan County township.

In Virginia Perry and Gregg Terhune, et al. v. Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, et al., No. 49T10-0712-TA-78, the court affirmed the DLGF's approval of two Madison Township loans - a reduced $409,000 emergency amount for operating expenses and $650,000 for new vehicles and equipment - that the petitioning taxpayers didn't want to pay for in 2007. Those taxpayers argued on appeal that the agency misinterpreted statutory provisions and ignored evidence, but the court disagreed and also pointed to underlying local political issues at play during that time.

An argument on appeal was that the township's firefighting fund was insufficient to cover department expenses, not because of an emergency but because of a "poorly-timed" decision by local officials to transition the fire department from paid/standby to career/full-time status.

A footnote at the end of the 11-page opinion highlights the difficult position Tax Judge Thomas G. Fisher is often put in for these types of tax cases.

"The Court is mindful of the political rancor surrounding this litigation. Nevertheless, it is not a function of this Court to determine whether Madison Township's transition to a full-time fire department, or its purchase of additional vehicles and equipment, were good policies or bad policies. Rather, this Court can only decide whether the DLGF's loan approvals were supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with the law.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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