-- — Those darn computers! When they work, fine, but sometimes mistakes happen.
Due to an Indiana Department of Revenue computer programming error, officials announced in April $206 million in income tax revenues owed to local governments were placed in state coffers instead.
Now the lost money has been returned. How did the blunder impact area budgets?
Batesville gained $142,963 in mid-April, reported clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel.
Mayor Rick Fledderman said the dollars “helped with the cash flow because we only receive money twice a year.” He explained, “Most of our money comes in December and June” from property taxes.
Not knowing about the money earlier did affect the city’s budget this year. According to Fledderman, “we didn’t have to cut people, but we cut projects and equipment.”
The mistake “is frustrating,” he admitted. “It’s the second time in a matter of months there was an error.” In December, IDOR budget analysts found $320 million in lost corporate tax revenues they didn’t know were there.
“It was good to see that money come back to local government” in the form of $300 million to fund all-day kindergarten across the state. The mayor pointed out, “There was some money left. It would have been nice if more of that could have been returned to the city and schools.”
With property tax caps, “it’s just getting tougher” to provide city services, according to Fledderman. “In theory they’re great, but in reality ... we’re beginning to feel the effects.” With flat or less revenue, he predicted street improvements will be limited.
“Ripley County received a little over $350,000 in funds from the state after the error was discovered” in April, said county council President Dephane Smith, Milan.
“This money will be placed in the our Rainy Day Fund for unforeseen expenses.”
She added, “We did not make any cuts to the budget because of this error. Because of the uncertain economic conditions we are in, it is in our best interest to be frugal until we see a turnaround.
“It is of the utmost importance that we, as a county, be as fiscally responsible as possible. Every officeholder and department head has worked very hard to keep their budgets and spending to the minimum.”
Franklin County received $376,563. Of that, $281,173 was placed in the general fund and $95,390 in the highway fund, said auditor Erica Hudson. Council President Jeff Koch, Oldenburg, noted the dollars the county gained “made it a little easier to fund the two new sheriff's vehicles that were needed.
“The rest of the money is not really earmarked for any certain use. We will just see how the rest of the year goes.” He noted, “We have already set a budget for 2012 that we are using.”
“Even with this extra money that was not included in the revenue projections for 2012, I would not change anything in the budget.
“We are only 12 weeks from setting the 2013 budget. At that time, the council may look at appropriating this money.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com.