INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana House voted Monday to give LaPorte County 4 million reasons to immediately catch up on long-delayed property tax bills.
State Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, won House approval to amend Senate Bill 19 to require LaPorte County pay $1 million to local governments and school corporations for every year the county remains behind on property tax collections.
Earlier this month, LaPorte County mailed 2007 property tax bills that were due to be paid in 2008 but delayed by a contested property reassessment. Dermody said the county doesn't expect to get caught up until 2016.
Because of the delay, cities and schools have paid millions of dollars in interest on loans taken out to keep operating while waiting for the county to collect and hand over their tax revenue.
"It's not fair to the taxpayers, and it's not fair to local units of government," Dermody said.
The proposal also allows the county commissioners to effectively replace the county treasurer and auditor with a "special master" empowered to issue property tax bills and collect revenue.
Dermody said he hopes the legislation will give the county an incentive to get caught up.
"All the counties except one are getting it right," Dermody said.
The House is slated to vote on the underlying legislation Tuesday. The Senate must also consent to the LaPorte County proposal before it can go to the governor.