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Monday, May 27, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Tax Court issued one opinion on Friday, May 24

In Dora Brown, Ben Kindle, and Sonjia Graf v. Department of Local Government Finance, a 9-page opinion, Judge Wentworth writes:

Dora Brown, Ben Kindle, and Sonjia Graf appeal the final determination of the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) approving the Gregg Township Board’s loan resolution for the 2010 tax year. The Petitioners allege that the DLGF’s final determination must be reversed because it is contrary to law, not supported by substantial evidence, and in violation of their constitutional rights. The Court affirms the DLGF’s final determination in part and remands it in part. * * *

On appeal, the Petitioners argue that the DLGF’s final determination must be reversed for three reasons. First, they argue that the final determination is contrary to law. Second, they argue that the DLGF’s final determination is not supported by substantial evidence. Finally, the Petitioners argue that the DLGF’s final determination violates certain rights guaranteed to them under Indiana’s Constitution. * * *

[T]he DLGF was not required to perform the “needs analysis” set forth in Indiana Code § 36-6-6-14(d) before it approved the Gregg Township Board’s loan resolution under Indiana Code § 36-8-13. Therefore, the Court is not persuaded by the Petitioners’ first claim that the DLGF’s final determination is contrary to law. * * *

[T]he Court is not persuaded that the DLGF’s final determination is not supported by the evidence. See Clark-Pleasant Cmty. Sch. Corp., 899 N.E.2d at 765 (citations omitted) (explaining that the Court will give deference to any reason the DLGF bases its final determination on as long as that reason is supported by substantial evidence). * * *

Finally, the Petitioners claim that the DLGF’s final determination wrongly requires the taxpayers of Gregg Township to bear the entire cost of the loan even though the fire department will use the new vehicle to respond to calls outside Gregg Township. Thus, allege the Petitioners, the DLGF’s final determination violates both Article 1, Section 23 and Article 10, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution.

While the Petitioners raised this argument at the administrative hearing, the DLGF failed to address it in its final determination. In reviewing the administrative record, the Court notes that the parties presented competing evidence with respect to this issue. Accordingly, the Court remands this issue to the DLGF so that it may fulfill its duty to review the evidence, weigh it, and make a determination thereon. [4]
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[4] The Court reviewed an almost identical issue involving the same parties in a 2010 not-for-publication opinion. See In re: Emergency Fire Loan for Gregg Twp., Cause No.49T10-0909-TA-52, slip op. at 12-15 (Ind. Tax Ct. Aug. 31, 2010). The Court is confident that that opinion will assist the DLGF in reviewing the evidence on remand. [ILB: emphasis added]

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 27, 2013 11:46 AM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions