Thursday, July 3, 2014

News and Tribune Reports Clark County Loses Tax Court Case

From the Clark County News and Tribune:

The Indiana Tax Court ruled against Clark County last week in a case in which the county challenged the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance’s denial of its request for an excess property tax levy for the 2011 budget year.

The ruling ends a legal battle that was initiated by the county on Feb. 4, 2011, and stems from a decision of the Clark County Council in 2007 to voluntarily reduce the county’s budget levy in 2008.

The county had argued that the council had committed a “data error” when calculating how many dollars to list as the county’s operating balance, which would have mitigated the impact of the 25 percent levy reduction in future years, said former county attorney Greg Fifer.

The county filed a levy appeal with the DLGF in 2010 for permission to impose an excess property tax levy in the amount of $7.2 million, but the DLGF issued a final determination denying the appeal without providing the county a hearing, stating that “no error occurred, but rather that Clark County intentionally lowered its levy in 2008.”

Fifer said he was “not shocked at the result,” and said the tax court based its ruling on a “self-serving document the DLGF put into the administrative record without having a hearing” on the matter.

“That made it a much more difficult hurdle to get over,” Fifer said.

An appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court is an option, Fifer said, but it would be up to the county’s leaders to decide on whether or not it was worth the expense to pursue it. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the ruling being issued, Fifer said.