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Property tax saga continues

In the unfolding saga that is Harrison County property taxes, residents should add another chapter.
‘If I was out of compliance, I would not be so frustrated, but I am not and the people of Harrison County should not be made to go through this ordeal especially if there is no statute that legally allows this,’ so writes Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe in a letter dated Sept. 6 to the Dept. of Local Government and Finance Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave.
Wolfe wrote this letter just two days after receiving a letter from the commissioner herself concerning, again, Harrison County’s lack of compliance due to the sales disclosure dataset.
‘As soon as Harrison County’s sales disclosure file is deemed compliant, your budget order, including certified tax rates will be released,’ Musgrave said in the letter, and cited 50 IAC 21-9-1 as the statute that legally allows the state to withhold such information.
Not so, according to Wolfe.
This statute, section 1 of the ninth rule of Article 21 (titled Annual Adjustments), specifically concerns the proper ways to transfer sales disclosures to the DLGF. It does not, in either of the three parts of the statute, mention withholding tax rates until the data is transferred.
In her letter back to the DLGF, Wolfe points out that based on information from the DLGF Web site, Harrison County is more compliant than surrounding Floyd, Crawford and Jackson counties, yet all three have been given their tax rates/budget orders. Wolfe once again questions the legality of withholding the tax rates based on an issue in the assessor’s office.
However, according to county Assessor Lorena Stepro, this hopefully shouldn’t be an issue much longer.
The Harrison County sales disclosure dataset was sent to the state early this week, and she’s been told she should hear something ‘one way or the other’ this week. And, as she reported to the Harrison County Council during its meeting Monday night, ‘We’re top priority.’
If the sales disclosures are deemed compliant, Stepro said this is the last step in getting the tax rates/budget orders released for Harrison County.
Harrison County is also one of 14 counties recently released from reassessment in the latest round of release from the DLGF on Sept. 7.
‘Officials in these counties conducted assessments in accordance with state guidelines and demonstrated due diligence in conducting the original assessments,’ Musgrave said in a statement on the Web site.
A total of 59 counties have been released so far.