County Councilman Matt Bernacchi announced to his fellow council members during Monday's meeting of the La Porte County Council that the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) has chosen to cancel all future meetings until it's appointed members are more evenly balanced by political party affiliation.
The board is comprised of five appointed members – two by the county council and three by the county commissioners. Bernacchi currently holds one of these appointed positions.
According to Shaw Friedman, attorney for the county council, the PTABOA should represent a political make up of three from one party and two from another – with either Democrats or Republicans holding the majority. Currently, there are four Democrats on the board and one Republican.
This imbalance came in February with the council's appointment of Ken Purze, a Democrat who was selected by the council based not on his political affiliation but his ability to fulfill the needs of the board.
“We urged them not to fill that position with a Democrat,” Friedman said, knowing the imbalance would cause an unrest within the Republican party. As a result, the Republican party has filed a request with the council to reappoint one of the board Democrats with a Republican who also meets the boards qualification requirements.
Many of the council members argued, however, that the burden of maintaining a balanced board falls to the county commissioners. Additionally, council attorney Doug Biege said that, although it is improper to have an imbalanced party representation on the board, it would be equally improper to reappoint a board member based solely on their political affiliation.