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DLGF denies tax increase

by ANDREW MACIEJEWSKI - amaciejewski@wabashplaindealer.com

The Department of Local Government Finance denied the Wabash County Board of Commissioner’s request to raise the Cumulative Capital Development fund because the County failed to meet public notice requirements established under Indiana Code.

Wabash County Auditor Marcie Shepherd told the commissioners at their May 14 meeting that the request was denied because the Wabash Plain Dealer failed to publish a legal advertisement announcing the tax increase on Feb. 28, but email records show the Auditor’s Office approved the advertisement to run March 4 and March 8, in violation of Indiana Code 5-3-1-2(f).

On March 12, the commissioners approved to reestablish the CCD fund from a rate of 0.0164 to 0.0333 for every $100 of assessed valuation. The fund was estimated to generate $220,000 in a year, but since the mistake was not caught in time to reestablish the rate before the April 30 deadline, the County must wait until next year to establish the fund.

Plain-Dealer management said an error was made in not publishing the advertisement on Feb. 28, the date the County originally wanted to publish the advertisement, but company representatives state they followed all of the County’s instructions to publish the notice on two later dates, March 1 and March 8.

According to Indiana Code, notice of a proposal to establish a cumulative or sinking fund, such as the CCD fund, must be published twice at least one week apart, “with the second publication made at least three (3) days before the date of the hearing.”

The DLGF said in its denial that while the County provided evidence for attempting to post notice in the Plain Dealer on March 1 and March 8, the County did not provide evidence showing it attempted to post the notice in “three prominent places in the political subdivision,” which would have been “sufficient notice in lieu of the publication in the newspaper that failed to publish.”

Shepherd responded that she did not know about the statute. In the past, Shepherd said the DLGF allowed the County to publish legal notices after the required date when the error origoinated with the newspaper. Shepherd followed this procedure with the CCD fund asking the Plain Dealer to publish notices on March 4 and 8, but the DLGF commissioner denied the request.

“The DLGF will usually accept that as you did your due diligence,” Shepherd said. “With this new commissioner at the DLGF, that is not the case. He is following strictly by the statute.”