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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "Overdue and costing you: Indiana's late fees"

Sandra Chapman of WTHR 13 had a long story this weekend about "Indiana state agencies failing to pay their bills on time, some with mounting overdue fees, costing you millions." The report includes a long table showing "the agency with the highest interest (late fees) down to the lowest." A quote:

The 3 worst offenders: The Department of Child Services with more than a half million in late fees. The Indiana Department of Transportation with nearly a half million in late fees and FSSA Medicaid with more than a quarter of a million dollars in late fees.
Last night Chapman had another story, this one headed "Small town clerk questions state late fees." Some quotes:
INDIANAPOLIS - A small town administrator is socked with penalties for paying late, while state leaders don't have to follow the same rules.

13 Investigates has uncovered millions of dollars the state pays in late fees with no consequences. But in the town of Dayton in Tippecanoe County, an official was penalized for his overdue bills that were substantially less.

Good government in Dayton means paying bills on time. The cost of paying late hit Clerk-Treasurer Ron Koehler right in his own pocket.

"Something needs to be done," said Koehler, who was forced to personally pay back nearly $2,000 in late fees after a 2010 audit. * * *

"We had an assistant clerk in here that was paying the bills and didn't pay them on time, so me being the town clerk, I got charged for it," explained Koehler.

State Board of Accounts Examiner Bruce Hartman declined an on-camera interview, but said:

"We give a warning the first time that late payments and interest are not efficient use of taxpayer dollars. We try to help local and state government to understand it's not appropriate. If it does continue to happen, when we return for a follow-up audit, the policy does allow us to order the government official to personally pay for the late fees and interest."

"We believe in accountability," insisted Governor Mitch Daniels as he took questions about Indiana's recent discoveries of recent accounting errors.

But accountability for who?

In Koehler's case, the examiners said, "There were many instances of late payments to vendors" totaling $1,900 and "requested that Ronald Koehler reimburse the town."

He did, even though he had not received one dime in salary for seven straight years on the job.

Yet 13 Investigates found state agency after state agency racking up 100 times as much in late fees. Some of the agencies were paying anywhere from $100,000 to more than $500,000 in interest and fees.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 22, 2012 09:08 AM
Posted to Indiana Government