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County To Intercept State Tax Refunds From Those Behind In Property Taxes
Updated December 13, 2017 6:27 AM
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(BEDFORD) - The Lawrence County Commissioners signed an agreement with Tax Refund Exchange and Compliance System to take state income tax refunds from people who are at least three installments behind in their property taxes.

The authority to withhold state refunds from property owners who owe a minimum of $25 came last April after the passage of Senate Bill 515 by the Indiana General Assembly. That vote led to the creation of the Tax Refund and Compliance System.

Lawrence County Treasurer Paul Stewart says TREC is a debt set-off clearinghouse program to allow local units of government to easily and efficiently collect delinquent debt.

"Lawrence County is part of a pilot program," says Stewart. "Since the debtor is charged related collection fees, there is no cost to the county to register or participate other than to notify the delinquent property owner."

It offers an automated data export exchange between counties and the clearinghouse, with a similar back-end data import feature to update county financial records. The association administers TREC under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indiana Department of Revenue, according to the Association of Indiana Counties website.

Stewart told the commissioners, the TREC program is favorable to delinquent property owners because it:

  • Lowers credit-rating impacts.
  • Uses notification letters that allows the property owner 30 days to contest the decision.
  • Provides an appeals process regarding essential expenses, including medical bills.

While the TREC program applies to anything owned by an individual - tax refunds provided to corporations, limited liability business and partnerships are currently not eligible for intercept.

The county treasurer will have the responsibility of keeping all payment records updated on the treasurer's office, and collect Social Security numbers - something Indiana counties do not currently do with property taxes.

In other business:

The commissioners opened bids to replace Bridge 170 on Stove Road and Bridge 78 on Pumphouse Road. Those bids were taken under advisement.

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The commissioners accepted bids for materials and a backhoe. Of the bids received, two were for fuel, one for oil, five for stone, three for asphalt.

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Highway Department Supervisor David Holmes says crews continue to cold-patch county roads and are hauling shot rock. Crews also used a 20 percent salt and 80 percent sand mixture on some county roadways Saturday during a brief snow squall.

"We sent a few guys out on some bad areas like Snake Hill," Holmes added.

The commissioners also accepted a bid for the street department to purchase a John Deere 310SC backhoe.

Holmes told the commissioner he hopes to bid the replacement for Bridge 67 on Lawrenceport Road in January.

The now 96 foot bridge over Sugar Creek will be replaced with a 110 foot bridge at a cost of half a million dollars.

"The design phase is done were a just waiting on right of ways and the Department of Natural Resources easement," he added.

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The commissioners signed a contract with Know Ink to purchase 22 voting machines. Clerk Billie Tumie says the voting machines will be under lock and key along with the E-polling books in a storage area near the voter registration office.

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As of Tuesday morning, Sheriff Mike Branham reported there were 171 inmates housed at the jail, of those 44 were females, 13 were Level 6 felons and there were 1 Department of Correction hold.

"That is has been our average for the last six months," he added. "with some peaks and valleys."

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Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer is conducting a year-end review of the 911 emergency system.

"Job difficulty, the stress level, and low pay has cause an overturn in dispatchers," Luchauer told the commissioners.

The department has lost five dispatchers this year.

"Not sure if I could do the job," says Commissioner Gene McCracken. "Receiving calls from someone in a panic and being able to calm them down to get the pertinent information to get them help."

Commissioner Rodney Fish agreed, saying the county should possibly look at increasing dispatchers pay to prevent turnover.

Another issue - residents are not using 911 to call in emergencies.

"Many are leaving messages on the administrative line answering machines," says Luchauer. "And those calls are not getting dispatched right away. Residents in an emergency situation need to dial 911."

The county conducted two mock emergency drills.

Luchauer says more than 30 student from Bedford North Lawrence Career Center participated in mock emergency drills at both St. Vincent Dunn Hospital and IU Health .

"There were very professional," say Luchauer. "They all did great and we even had one male attempt to steal items during the drill keeping security on their toes. It went great and the all did a great job. We tested out some new things and found some things we need to improve on."



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