Source: The Corydon Democrat

Riverboat appeal causes financial ripple

by Ross Schulz

May 06, 2014

Harrison County Government will soon have to make up for a potential shortfall for many taxing units in the county, including the South Harrison Community School Corp., thanks to a successful appeal of assessed valuation of property taxes by an out-of-state riverboat.

The result of the appeal means riverboats, including Horseshoe Southern Indiana, will be assessed at a lower value than previous years meaning less revenue taxing units associated with Posey Township. That includes nearly $842,000 for South Harrison schools.

“Obviously, it is devastating to our budget,” Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent of South Harrison schools, said Monday morning at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting. “We’re asking for relief, based on no fault of our own.”

Horseshoe Southern Indiana, formerly Caesars Indiana, appealed its assessed valuation in 2011 in the amount of more than $190 million for the casino and riverboat, hotel and golf course. It has since been reduced to $50 million. Horseshoe’s properties comprise more than 70 percent of the township’s assessed value, so any change in the assessed value would greatly affect the entire township and the taxing units involved.

“Something has to be done,” Commissioner George Ethridge said as he made a motion to pass an additional of $1.5 million to the county council to combat the shortfall.

Ethridge’s request included taking the money out of riverboat gaming funds or the county’s community fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation.

Other than South Harrison, the estimates show the figures will reduce other budgets as follows: county general fund, $238,262; reassessment, $20,695; cumulative courthouse, $17,725; cumulative bridge, $46,612; health, $41,260; EMS, $41,544; parks, $44,631; cumulative capital development, $24,060; Posey Township, $10,956; county library, $100,106; and solid waste, $15,847.

Ethridge’s motion included funding to make up for all of the budget shortfalls.

Auditor Karen Engleman and Assessor Rena Stepro tried to lessen the damage knowing this decision was coming, but the Indiana Dept. of Local Governing Finance denied their request to withhold more than normally allowed of the Certified Net Assessed Values for Posey Township.

According to Indiana code, county auditors have the authority to withhold or reduce a taxing unit’s net assessed value by 2 percent to absorb the effects of reduced property tax collections from appeals and can request to withhold more if a greater impact is expected.

In other business Monday morning, the board learned its insurance premium renewal dropped $11,179 from last year. The total, $406,166, includes public agency multi-class liability, designated wrongful employment practices liability, employee benefits errors or omissions liability, comprehensive automobile insurance, property package, inland marine/EDP and equipment.

Pam Bennett Martin of Bennett & Bennett Insurance said the county is moving in the right direction and department heads are doing a good job of maintaining losses.

Asphalt bids for the following packages was awarded to low-bidder Gohmann Asphalt:

•West Bradford Road between S.R. 135 and Bradford Road and East Bradford Road between Bradford Road and Coen Tush Road — $202,190;

•Crandall-Lanesville Road between Pfrimmer’s Chapel Road and S.R. 335, Corydon Junction Road between Lost Creek Road and Old S.R. 64, Spring Branch Road between Oak Park Road and Lone Acres Drive, Trestle Road between S.R. 135 and Corydon Junction Road and Northpoint Drive between S.R. 135 and end of road — $200,052;

•Harrison-Heth Road between S.R. 135 and Buck Creek Valley Road, Hillgrove Road between Heidelberg Road and Shiloh Road, Shiloh Road between Hillgrove Road and Wiseman Road and Shiloh Road between S.R. 337 and Fogel Road — $284,655;

•Corydon Ridge Road between Town of Corydon and Pfrimmer’s Chapel Road — $289,773;

•New Amsterdam Road between Blue Springs Road and Cotner Lane and River Road between the Town of New Amsterdam and Mulzer’s Quarry — $316,065; and

•Sunset Strip Road between Old Dam 43 Road and Old Dam 43 Road and Old Dam 43 Road between Sunset Strip Road and Buena Vista Road — $278,403.

Other bidders were MAC Construction and J.H. Rudolph.

The next commissioner’s meeting will be Monday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.