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State foul-up provides windfall

April 6, 2012

    Adams County and its political subdivisions stand to gain a windfall totaling nearly $750,000 when the state of Indiana divides some $205 million in County Option Income Tax (COIT) and County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) funds that are being belatedly distributed by the state of Indiana.
    State taxation department officials announced on Thursday that, due to an "oversight," recent income tax revenue was never distributed to counties as it should have been, the second such state monetary snafu in recent months.
    "I'm still fuming about this," Adams County Auditor Bill Borne said Thursday afternoon upon learning of the state's most recent error.
    According to Borne's initial calculations, the City of Decatur will receive approximately $119,000 ($79,680 in COIT funding and $39,500 in CEDIT revenue) in the upcoming state payment, which he hopes to see "within the next few days." The City of Berne's share of the refund pie totals more than $41,000.
    Adams Memorial Hospital, which shares in the city's CEDIT disbursement, will gain approximately $52,000, Borne said. Anticipated payments for other political subdivisions in the county were not immediately available.
    Borne said county officials were unaware of the lapse in local income tax payments, primarily because state tax officials had previously claimed that earlier payments to the counties had been erroneously high. "They (state tax officials) said we owed them money," Borne said.
    The auditor said an additional payment for the first three months of 2012 will also soon be on its way to Adams County. That dispersal will include an estimated $150,890 in COIT funding and $127,500 in CEDIT money, Borne said.
    Decatur Mayor John Schultz was excited, but cautious, about the news that unexpected money is coming the city's way.
    "I think we'll put it (the newfound money) into a savings account, because I'm sure the state will need it back for some reason," the mayor said with tongue firmly in cheek.
    Schultz said the CEDIT money will help implement the city's two-year economic development plan and "will probably be placed in our Rainy Day Fund."
    Clerk-Treasurer Phyliss Whitright said COIT money "goes into the city's General Fund" and can be used for the fire and police departments, the mayor and clerk's office and other sources.
    Berne Clerk-Treasurer Gwen Maller had been informed of the upcoming refund through an email from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns by the time she was contacted by the Democrat on Thursday afternoon.
    "It makes me happy," Maller said of the windfall.
    She said COIT receipts are placed in the city's general fund, while CEDIT funds are used to support the city's sidewalk program, assistance for downtown merchants and other miscellaneous programs.
    "Now I'll just be interested to see what kind of strings are attached (to the payment)," Maller said. "The last time the state returned money to us, they required that we put it in our Rainy Day Fund."

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