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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Tax Court posts an opinion today; and some info from the ILB

Since August 29th, the Tax Court had posted only two rulings, one on a petition for rehearing, the other the denial of a Motion for Trial Rule 37 sanctions.

Today the Tax Court has posted an additional decision.

The City of Greenfield and the Greenfield Fire Protection Territory v. The Ind. Dep't of Local Government Finance, a 14-page opinion, Sr. Judge Fisher writes:

The Greenfield Fire Protection Territory, which was established by the City of Greenfield and the unincorporated area of Center Township, Hancock County, Indiana (Center Township), is the only fire protection territory in Hancock County that has a uniform tax rate. In 2011, the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) issued a final determination pursuant to Public Law 172-2011, Section 164 that adjusted the Territory’s general fund levy for the 2012 budget year. The City of Greenfield and the Territory have appealed that final determination, claiming that it is arbitrary and capricious, not supported by substantial evidence, and in contravention of Article 4, Sections 22 and 23 of the Indiana Constitution. Upon review, the Court reverses. * * *

The lack of sufficient factual findings would typically require the Court to remand the matter to the DLGF. See Perez, 426 N.E.2d at 33-34; Pack, 935 N.E.2d at 1227-28. Here, however, the Court need not remand for this deficiency because the DLGF’s final determination is invalid for an entirely different reason. * * *

The certified administrative record and the three generally applicable provisions of Public Law 172-2011 regarding fire protection territories indicate that Public Law 172-2011, Section 164 could have been written to apply throughout the state because neither the Territory nor the circumstances surrounding its establishment are unique. Therefore, Public Law 172-2011, Section 164 contravenes the special legislation provisions set forth in Article 4, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution. Accordingly, the DLGF’s final determination that adjusted the Territory’s general fund levy for the 2012 budget year pursuant to Public Law 172-2011, Section 164 is invalid.

CONCLUSION. For the above-stated reasons, the final determination of the DLGF is REVERSED. The Court REMANDS this matter to the DLGF with instructions to reinstate the City of Greenfield’s and Center Township’s original levies and tax rates for the 2012 budget year and take any other actions consistent with this opinion.

The Tax Court website indicates a second opinion, from Nov. 7, The University of Phoenix, Inc. v. Ind. Dep't of State Revenue, but that is an error. Here is the docket.

On an entirely different matter, people accessing the Appellate Court Docket today will see this message:

NOTICE: On Nov. 26, the dockets in Tax Court cases will not be updated with new case events while Tax Court cases are converted into a new case management system. The Clerk's Office will still process filings, orders, opinions, etc., received on Nov. 26, but entries representing those case events will not be added to the applicable case docket until the week of Dec. 1. Beginning Nov. 27, Tax Court case dockets will be available at mycase.in.gov.
MyCase is the public access site for the Odyssey Case Management System. It is where users may access trial court dockets. (It is also the court site with the annoying CAPTCHA requirement). No further explanation of the change is provided.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 19, 2014 01:42 PM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions