By ERIC MANN
Adams County Auditor Bill Borne has made public a sharply-worded letter he sent to the two men who represent the county in the Indiana General Assembly about $320 million in state funds that were overlooked and then reportedly found this year.
Borne, who will close eight years as auditor on December 31, 2012, and is an Auditor of the Year award winner, sent the letter to State Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, and State Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, who will be at work in the state legislature starting in early January.
The letter says Borne is concerned about a committee chaired by State Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, deciding to not have a private, nongovernmental firm investigate what Borne calls "the 'found' $320 million."
Borne says, "This is not right and I wish the state legislature would ask for a private investigation of this money. Adams County citizens have been affected by this, as the cuts in the state budget did affect our schools, since the state takeover of [school] general funds."
The auditor added that the public "deserves to know what happened and that future state policies will address the issue.
"I find it somewhat appalling that this kind of mistake can happen at the state level with no investigation. The State Board of Accounts was created to make sure this does not happen at a county, city, or town.
"If this would have happened at any of the local levels, there would have been all kinds of accusations of malfeasance or misfeasance, yet, at the state level, it is being swept under the rug and used as pats on the back.
` "The governor has issued raises with the money and commented that it was just a very small portion of the budget, stating he knew something was wrong, but could not put his finger on it."
Borne also says Gov. Mitch Daniels "has included the 'missing' money in his calculations of what taxpayers could get back. If there is any misfeasance in this, Adams County taxpayers deserve to know and, if there is none, deserve to know for sure."
Furthermore, the county auditor says he "has concerns that the Indiana Department of Revenue is the one that discovered this, as I am informed. They are also the ones who inform us of our local tax collections. As you know [referring to Lehman and Holdman], these taxes have dropped off dramatically in the last year, creating issues all over the state. My question is how accurate is their reporting and collection of this money?"
Borne concludes, "At a time when there is so much concern about local government and focus on eliminating the accountability locally, I believe taxpayers should get the opportunity to see this investigated by a private firm not associated with the state!"