County will see $1.18 million from state error

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ninety-one of 92 Indiana counties are gathering what the state spilled. Fortunately, Putnam is not the odd man out.

An accounting error by the Indiana Department of Revenue cost Indiana counties a combined $206 million since the beginning of 2011. The mistake was discovered earlier this week, and the money will be repaid immediately, with interest.

Putnam County's share of the funds to be distributed is $1,184,283.12, divided between the County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) and County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT).

Putnam County Commissioners Kristina Warren, Gene Beck and Nancy Fogle found out about the windfall by phone calls from State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) Thursday morning, before much of the public learned of the error.

"Jim called me before noon and said he'd gotten a call from Indianapolis about it," Beck said.

"That is a good thing. When you get a million dollars you don't know you're going to get, it helps everything. It opens up a lot of doors that you think, well, we're going to have to cut this or cut that. It will help countywide."

"It's great. We can all use it," Fogle said, adding the county should look to protect its future with the money. "I think it needs to go back into the Rainy Day Fund. We took $500,000 out for roads last year, and we're going to try and get more this year, so I think the rest needs to go into Rainy Day. But that's up to the (county) council."

Of the money, $790,673.44 is in the CAGIT fund, which is overseen by the Putnam County Council. Auditor Stephanie Campbell explained that CAGIT money goes toward miscellaneous revenue for County General.

When he was contacted by the Banner Graphic, Council Vice President Keith Berry was unaware of the news, but was happy to hear it.

"That is very good news," Berry said with a slight laugh. "That is great news. We can use that money."

Of course, no decisions on how the money will be spent can be made until the council meets officially, but Berry said there is no shortage of needs.

"This council's pretty tight with its money, but we'll make some decisions," he said. "We've got some roads that kind of need some attention."

The remaining $393,609.68 is in CEDIT money, which is administered by the commissioners. County roads are sure to be part of the discussion of the money's use as well.

One question that remains about the money is whether there will be any payments made to cities and towns.

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray said she received an email from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns indicating all funds would be distributed to counties. From that point, it is up to the county to allocate funds to municipalities.

However, a statement issued by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Thursday afternoon indicated that all taxing units in Marion County would get money well in excess of the $33.8 million the state's largest county is to receive.

For more on the statewide impact of the state's budget mistake, see the story on page 3A.

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