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Lawsuit dismissed against county auditor

Resident could appeal decision

A decision by the Ninth District Court of Appeals was issued last month to dismiss a case that had been tied up in the court system for years involving a Sugar Creek Township resident and the county auditor.

David Wengerd petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus against Auditor Jarra Underwood seeking to compel her to comply with her statutory duties by law and “to ascertain, apportion, and divide” East Wayne Fire District’s general fund, grant fund, and personal property by tax valuation to Sugar Creek Township. He also sought an award of costs and attorney fees, claiming that the auditor “acted in bad faith.”

The case stems back to the formation of EWFD by Baughman and Sugar Creek townships, and villages of Dalton and Marshallville, according to background provided in the filings available on the court’s website.

An amended joint resolution was executed in 2014 and municipalities agreed to pay annually for fire protection services: $70,000 each from Baughman and Sugar Creek townships; $72,000 from Dalton, and $12,600 from Marshallville. “The joint resolution provided that, upon the withdrawal of any municipality from the Fire District, the Auditor would ‘ascertain, apportion and order a division of the vehicles, equipment, supplies, funds on hand, monies and taxes in the process of collection…”

In response to Sugar Creek Township’s notice of withdrawal, effective January 2017, the auditor determined that the township “was only entitled to a division and distribution of funds from the Fire District’s ambulance and emergency services fund. The Auditor calculated the township’s share of those funds using the percentage valuation of the respective tax duplicates for each of the Fire District’s four municipalities. The Auditor determined that Sugar Creek Township was not entitled to any payment or distributions from the Fire District’s general funds, grant funds, or any real or personal property acquired by the Fire District.” Following the auditor’s determination and order, Wengerd, as “a taxpayer and citizen of Sugar Creek Township” filed the complaint against the auditor, the court document states.

Read the complete story in the Jan. 19, 2021 edition.

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