One benefit of having legislative sessions every year is that the Legislature can clear up unintended consequences or oversights that exist in current statutes. Shelby Swain Myers, associate policy adviser for Indiana Farm Bureau, and Justin Schneider, IFB director of state government relations, say the 2019 session was no exception.
While they may not be headline news, these changes in statutes could be important to you:
1. Personal property tax assessment rules. Some counties use third-party companies to complete assessment audits of personal property in their jurisdiction, Swain Myers says. IFB became aware, based on member reports, that some third-party auditors were basing assessment on list price, not acquired price, when it came to farm equipment. Even though state officials had instructed that the assessment should be based on acquired price, not everyone was following that guideline.
“Now it’s in the statute, so farmers can reference it when appealing or under audit,” Swain Myers says.
2. Annexation waiver. Annexation is always a hot button. IFB has helped push meaningful reform in annexation procedures, but one loophole still needed fixing, Schneider says. When cities or towns extend services such as sewer or water beyond their city or town limits, they often require prospective customers to sign a waiver that they will not remonstrate against future annexation, should it occur. Sometimes no expiration date was attached to the waiver.
This year the Legislature revisited the issue and stated that waivers can be no longer than 15 years. Waivers also must be signed within 30 days of providing the initial service. In effect, this restores your ability to remonstrate against proposed annexation if it occurs after the waiver expires.
3. Fire district income. If a fire district serves more than $1 billion of net assessed valuation, then new provisions added to law prevent a city from claiming revenue that’s going to support that fire district.
“It only affects a few large fire districts, but it’s important that they have funds to repay debt they’ve incurred,” Schneider says.