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Tax rate approved, payments due Nov. 28

The property tax rates for Harrison County are finally in after a long struggle. The delay has caused problems for many people, including the community schools, parks department, fire districts, solid waste management and other county offices.
The problems will not end now that the rates are in. Early indication shows that property taxes have increased from 35 to 50 percent. The actual tax rates have gone down since 2006, but the percentage of the State Homestead Credit has dropped significantly, causing the higher taxes.
Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe said the state will send refund checks ‘ to about 10,600 persons who had a Homestead Credit in 2006 ‘ at the end of the year that may ease the burden on property taxpayers. The amount will most likely be determined by the assessed value, she said.
The amounts to be paid must be certified by Dec. 20. Wolfe plans to complete the checks in-house, by hiring two employees for 800 hours of work rather than hiring an outside vendor. That hinges on the approval first of the commissioners and the council. ‘I’d prefer to keep the money in Harrison County,’ said Wolfe at the council’s meeting last Tuesday.
The Auditor’s office received the rates at 10 a.m. last Wednesday, according to Wolfe.
Wolfe received the rates from the Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance by e-mail after she asked the DLGF to send them that way to expedite the process. It took 88 pages for the rates to be downloaded over the Internet.
Heather Metcalf, Carolyn Lowe and Wolfe worked Friday through Sunday to complete the abstract.
The abstract calculation went smoothly, according to Metcalf, Wolfe’s first deputy.
The DLGF has to approve the abstract, which should not be much of a problem, Wolfe said. Then, the Auditor’s office has to post a large stack of Correction of Errors on taxes.
A petition to correct errors can be filed for three reasons: the taxes were illegal, a mathematical error was made in computing the assessment, and through error of omission by any state or county officer, the taxpayer was not given credit for an exemption or deduction permitted by law.
The county treasurer will have to post all advanced payments before the tax statements can be sent out. With the Correction of Errors and advanced payments complete, the 30,000 tax bills will be printed and then sent out by Harrison County Treasurer Carol Hauswald.
Wolfe said she hopes the statements will be sent out by the end of this month. After the tax bills are received, property owners can appeal through the assessor’s office. Wolfe said that process will be announced.
The Treasurer’s office and Auditor’s office will be working simultaneously to get the statements in the mail.
‘We’re getting there,’ Wolfe said. ‘We have to follow a process.’
The tax collection date has been set for Nov. 28, with settlements to be made to county entities, possibly by Dec. 17, Wolfe said.
‘That’s wonderful, what a relief,’ Dr. Phil Partenheimer, superintendent of North Harrison Community School Corp., said Monday afternoon after learning that the settlements are to be paid before the end of the year.
‘I think it’s great for the county,’ he said.
The school corporation is one of the entities that has had to borrow money because of the late settlements.