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Knox County assessor requests help auditing large personal property returns 

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By Sabrina Westfall

The Knox County Assessor proposed a plan to get outside help for auditing large personal property taxes to the Knox County Commissioners.

County Assessor Cathy Lane explained there are about 400 audits of personal property returns with over $50,000 in assessed valuation .

“I am statutorily supposed to be auditing people’s returns. I obviously don’t have the staff to audit a return on Duke Power Plant or Futaba or something like that. In bigger counties you have 50 people working in the assessor’s office, but I don’t have that luxury,” Lane explained.

About 10 percent of the county’s assessed value comes from the personal property returns with some townships that have a considerably higher percentage, Lane said.

“A lot of those are big companies, and we want to make sure we are getting every dollar we are supposed to get,” Lane said.

She runs into an issue often times because when filling out the personal property tax, people will come to her for help. But, because she is the one who will be auditing their return, she has to simply answer questions and cannot get into specifics.

“The loss of the township trustees has really hurt these small communities because they used to help people fill these out. Farmers really relied on them to help fill these out, and I think sometimes they are not being filled out properly … Some of them are probably paying too much and some of them not enough. Not because they’re not intending to, but the forms are just very confusing,” she said.

She said the help of Tax Management Associates would be helpful when it comes to helping people who are filing.

Lane said information provided to the commissioners showed an audit done by the company in Howard County resulted in an additional $1.7 million of tax revenue found in personal property returns over $50,000 in assessed valuation.

She told the commissioners if approved, work with the company would begin in October or November.

The commissioners made a preliminary approval to approve a migrant farmworker housing project for JMR Farms.

Angie Richards with Harmony House proposed the project to the commissioners because it is outside city limits, which would be called Riverside Villas, Inc. She noted JMR Farms needs commissioner approval before they can seek a grant through the Indiana Housing Authority.

County Attorney Dale Webster stressed the county would not be providing any money for the project.

Scott Brown requested utilizing a GPS system through Verizon on the Probation Department vehicles. The cost will be $34.95 a month, and he said he would like to start with one vehicle. It will electronically show the distance travelled, how fast the driver is going and if there are engine problems in the vehicle.

The council approved signing the contract.

The council heard bids for the Keller Road project. Bids included Kerns Excavating at $372,795.20; CLR at $397,171.95; Blankenburger Brothers at $329,000; Wabash Utilities at $315,567.28; and Milestone Contractors LP at $351,756.60.
Webster recommended the county engineer and highway department take the bids under advisement.

The commissioners also approved the renewal of the contract for the E-911 services, which is budgeted for the amount of $11,049.

The next meeting will be Monday, June 16 at 6 p.m. in the Eva Hill Auditorium.