The Herald Bulletin

January 17, 2014

County budgets in limbo

State waiting on data from county

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON – Madison County is several months behind in supplying Indiana with necessary data, which could delay the approval of the 2014 budgets and the setting of property tax rates.

Concerns about the 2014 budget were raised during Tuesday’s meeting of the Madison County Council when officials were told they could not appropriate any additional funds for operating expenses.

Lisa Hobbs, the newly elected council president, said because the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) has not approved the 2014 budget, the council can’t approve funding requests from the county’s general fund or County Option Income Tax fund.

Patty Mauck, chief deputy with the Auditor’s office, said the county was awaiting the figures on the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts.

She said the assessed values for the county were supposed to be turned over to the Auditor’s office on July 1 by the Madison County Assessor’s office. Mauck said those figures were not received until the middle of October.

"The state is hounding us for the certified assessed values,” Mauck said.

Jenny Banks, director of communications for the DLGF, said the state agency has not received the certified assessed values from Madison County.

“This may delay the Madison County budget order, which the Department is required to issue by Feb. 15,” Banks said.

With the Madison County and city of Anderson 2014 budgets in limbo, Banks said the taxing units should be conservative in spending.

“Taxing units should utilize budget numbers with which they are comfortable,” Banks said in an email, “though the Department would certainly recommend being conservative in their approach. The (taxing) units will need to make appropriate adjustments to their budgets once the final certified budget amounts are received to account for the amounts spent prior to the budget certification.”

Mauck said Friday that the accounting firm of H.J. Umbaugh & Associates completed work on the TIF figures.

She said the Auditor’s office hopes to submit the certified assessed value amounts to the DLGF by Wednesday.

Mauck said a report on assessed values run Thursday found more than 700 errors, which are being corrected.

“The DLGF is doing the preliminary work on our budget,” she said. “Once the certified assessed values are provided to the state it can approve the budgets and tax rates.

Assessor Larry Davis said his office has been making progress on providing the information to the Auditor’s office since he took office in 2011.

“Last year, we got the information to the Auditor in November and the year before it was October,” he said. “The goal is to get the values to the Auditor in July or August.”

Davis said his office heard 4,800 appeals on assessed value in 2013 and has brought that number down.

“We inherited a lot of appeals that were backlogged,” he said. “We heard an appeal recently that was filed in 2004.”

Davis said on March 1 of every year the Assessor’s office has to set an assessed value on every property in the county.

“We want to get the information to the Auditor as quickly as possible,” he said.

Madison County Treasurer Kelly Gaskill said she was getting a little nervous about sending out the May property tax bills.

She said last year the bills were mailed 30 days before the May 10 due date and the state requires them be mailed 15 days prior to the due date.

“We’re waiting on the Assessor and Auditor offices,” Gaskill said.

The DLGF approved the 2014 budgets for Hancock County on Dec. 17 and Henry County on Jan. 9. The state agency is currently reviewing the budgets for Tipton, Hamilton, Grant and Delaware counties.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.