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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ind. Decisions - Tax Court issues one NFP today

In George M. Moffett v. Department of Local Government Finance (NFP), a 7-page opinion, Judge Fisher writes:

On September 10, 2008, the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) issued a final determination granting modified approval of the proposed lease rental agreement between the Union-North United School Corporation (the School Corporation) and the Union-North United School Building Corporation (the Building Corporation). George M. Moffett (Moffett) challenges that final determination. * * *

The Court therefore REMANDS the case with instructions for the DLGF to enter specific findings of fact upon which its final determination is based and upon which judicial review may then be effectively facilitated.

What happened here? The Court writes:
[I]t is imperative that the DLGF provide written findings of fact in support of its final determination, as those findings enable the Court to intelligently review the final determination without speculating as to the DLGF's rationale. See Jackson v. Cigna/Ford Elec. and Refrigeration Corp., 677 N.E.2d 1098, 1102 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997) (stating general rule that, in all cases, administrative agencies must set out written findings of fact so that on judicial review, courts do not have to speculate as to agency's reasoning) (citations omitted).

Here, the DLGF's final determination fails to meet this standard. Indeed, the final determination offers no findings of fact, no reasoning, no analysis of any kind.
[7] * * * Whether the DLGF considered the factors in Indiana Code § 20-46-7-11 is not the problem. * * * The problem is that it is impossible to discern why the DLGF ruled the way it did, and therefore it is impossible to discern whether its final determination is supported by substantial evidence.

[8] 8 On a final note, the DLGF argues that because many of Moffett's claims as to why the DLGF's final determination is erroneous are “conclusory,” “not supported with citations to the record,” or “not supported by cogent argument,” they fail to show that the DLGF committed reversible error. (See Resp't Br. at 4-5, 8-10.) It seems rather disingenuous, however, that the DLGF can complain about the deficiencies of Moffett's claims when those claims arise from its entirely deficient final determination. Accordingly, the Court will deal with Moffett's claims (and the DLGF's responses thereto) after the DLGF enters specific findings of fact in support of its final determination.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 20, 2009 11:37 AM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions