St. Joseph County finally has the state permission it needs to calculate and mail property tax bills for 2007.
The calculating has already begun. The mailing part should start in about two weeks.
Late Thursday, Indiana’s Department of Local Government Finance signed off on St. Joseph County’s budget. Some county officials wonder why the process took so long.
Others went as far as to say the county budget was being held “hostage.”
St. Joseph County Assessor David Wesolowski said the budget approval was held up while the state requested information that had little, if anything to do with setting the tax rates. Wesolowski says the requests dealt with information on non taxable government owned properties, and on business inventories that are no longer taxed.
Wesolowski said the DLGF developed a “confrontational” attitude that he had “never seen in my life.”
St. Joseph County Treasurer Sean Coleman was further angered by the appearance this week of a radio commercial that sought to blame the Democratic Party for failing to send out the bills.
The commercial was on behalf of the Republican candidate for South Bend Mayor.
Coleman, a Democrat, found it odd that the commercial hit the airwaves just three days before the state budget order was signed.
The Treasurer contends that he has had the “distinct impression that local government is being scapegoated as the cause of the property tax woes in the state of Indiana.”
A spokesperson for the D.L.G.F. (Department of Local Government Finance) denied any impropriety. She claimed that it wasn’t until August 31st that the state received all the information it needed to perform its regulatory duties.
While the majority of St. Joseph County residents should receive tax bills in October, that won’t be the case for everyone. There are six taxing units near the LaPorte County border that will be the exception. People in places like New Carlisle, North Liberty, and Walkerton are in school districts that cross county lines. Their bills can’t be calculated, until LaPorte County has its budget approved.