City has strong words for county

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Get it together, Putnam County.

That was the message heard from all sides of the Greencastle City Council Tuesday night amid discussions about the city's 2009 budget.

Council members took county officials to task for not getting property tax bills sent out in a timely manner, as has been the case for the last several billing cycles.

Mayor Sue Murray said she was told by the county that the first round of bills would likely be mailed in November and that the final round wouldn't go out until early next year.

Tax bills have already gone out in the other counties surrounding Putnam.

The news garnered strong criticism from members of the city council who are clearly tired of hearing the reasons why the bills have still not been sent out.

"If it means working a little overtime, then they need to work overtime," Councilman Mark Hammer said. "I really want to encourage the county to do everything it can to get these bills out."

Councilman Adam Cohen agreed, blaming the county for the financial hardships currently being experienced not only by the city, but by the various school corporations in the county who are having to take out loans just to get by.

"It just really infuriates me," he said.

City Clerk Treasurer Teresa Glenn told the council that she will be coming to them later this month with a request to once again borrow money from one part of the city's budget for another in order to keep the city operating through the end of this year.

She also had a message for the county.

"We are happy to help in any way we can," she said. "If they need manpower, we are willing to come and help -- to stuff envelopes or anything."

Mayor Murray followed up the comments by saying that rising fuel costs have also had a negative effect on the city budget.

"Of course the other thing that has impacted us are fuel costs," she said.

Comments concluded, the council approved a budget for next year that is slightly off from the previous year.

They built it upon the assumption that their assessed value for next year would fall by 15 percent. The state Department of Local Government Finance told them to expect a 25-percent drop.

Mayor Murray pointed out that even though the 2009 budget has been approved by the city council, it may have to be cut more, depending on how the final assessments turn out.

City officials did manage to include a slight raise for city employees, which they were happy about at Tuesday night's meeting.

The city is anticipating to spend $5,966,822 in all funds for the 2009 budget, which is up slightly from 2008 where they anticipated expenses of $5,962,428.

The city is requesting a tax levy of $3,178,816. Preliminarily, however, they have been approved for just $2,761,866, which is a difference of $416,950. The 2008 tax levy came in at $2,767,767, so it is actually projected to go down in 2009.

City officials say they are determined, for now, to press on with tight budgets and no tax revenue for the year.

They approved the second and final reading of the 2009 budget on Tuesday night by a unanimous vote.

Council members Hammer, Cohen, T.J. Smith and Jinsie Bingham were in attendance while Council President John Lanie was absent.

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  • Glad to see the city is having the same problems as the rest of us poor folks. Maybe it's time to start cutting waste not only on federal and state levels but also local.

    -- Posted by indy_500 on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 5:13 AM
  • I own property in other counties other than Putnam and I have received my tax bill. Everytime I have been into Putnam County they give me an excuse that they are not ready because the state hasn't set the tax rate? Obviously I know thats a lie since I already got my tax statement from another county! They must think the public is stupid. Glad to see someone jerk their chain.

    -- Posted by nascar_Couple on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 5:38 AM
  • It seems very interesting that when we don't get the answer we want, it is because someone is lying to us, not because the truth may not fall within what we want to hear. The state does set the property tax rates and they do not do it all at once. So it is a reality that counties do not get them at the same time. Our business is involved in over 50 Indiana counties and we have yet to see property tax bills in about half of the counties. So does this make all the counties without bills to date liars?

    I don't think so, it is a matter of the state getting rates approved and out to them. Before we call folks liars, make sure you know the facts.

    -- Posted by hoosierpete on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 6:22 AM
  • I agree with hoosierpete. His was a well thought out comment. The City Council would do well to investigate the problem instead of just "blowing off steam" about something they have no real knowledge of.

    -- Posted by not gullible on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 8:43 AM
  • Ridiculous! I no longer live in your city, but still own property there. The property taxes in Greencastle are as much as my home in another state...and the value of my home is more than 5 times the value of the house in Greencastle. And the city can't even get it together to send these outrageous bills?!!! What is the problem...can't they agree on just how much to raise taxes this year?

    -- Posted by ExHoosier on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 7:02 PM
  • Forgive me for not understanding, but in this day of computers doing so much of the work to expidite a process, why does this keep happening? When this was all done manually, everything went out on time with very few if any errors. Seems to me something is very wrong with this process!

    -- Posted by JustMyThoughts on Thu, Sep 11, 2008, at 11:34 AM
  • When we do get our property tax statements spring and fall will probably be due at the same time and they will want the money NOW! It is only fair that folks get these so they know how much to expect to shell out before the holidays.I like to plan ahead with my budget like most others do.I work with folks that live in other counties and YES they got theirs on time.

    -- Posted by peace2019 on Thu, Sep 11, 2008, at 7:09 PM
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