IndyGo is a public transportation corporation providing bus service throughout Marion County, excluding the Cities of Lawrence and Southport and the Town of Speedway. In 2008, IndyGo sought approval to impose an excess property tax levy of $1,047,369 because it suffered property tax revenue shortfalls for the 2006 and 2007 budget years due to an “erroneous assessed valuation.” To arrive at this figure, IndyGo essentially compared the difference in property taxes charged and paid within the county (excluding the municipalities noted above) for both budget years; the requested shortfall represented IndyGo’s portion of the total. The Department rejected the 2007 request, explaining that it collected more than its certified levy. The Department approved almost two-thirds of the requested shortfall appeal for 2006, denying the rest because the unit received excessive revenues for the 2008 budget year.
In Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation v. Indiana Dep’t of Local Gov’t Finance (May 3, 2013), the Indiana Tax Court observed that public transportation corporations may petition for excess tax levies when they suffer property tax revenue shortfalls, but the maximum increase (for the period at issue) “equals the remainder of the civil taxing unit’s property tax levy for the particular calendar year as finally approved” by the Department “minus the actual property tax levy collected” by the taxing unit for the calendar year. Slip op. at 6-7 (quoting Ind. Code § 6-1.1-18.5-16(c)). No prescribed method for calculating a shortfall exists. Nevertheless, IndyGo argued that the Department erroneously included delinquent property tax collections in its 2007 shortfall calculation. But IndyGo failed to show that the Department violated a statute or other legal principle. Slip op. at 9. Furthermore, it did not show that the Department’s denial was “clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances” of the case. Slip op. at 9 (citations omitted). Instead, IndyGo “merely invited the Court to reweigh the evidence in its favor or to hold that the DLGF should have provided more, different, or better evidence to support its collections number.” Id. The Court declined the invitation.
IndyGo further claimed it was error for the Department to reject the same computation methodology used for the 2007 shortfall request that was implicitly approved for the 2006 request. But the Court found that a “reasonable mind” would not have concluded that the Department “approved” the methodology used by IndyGo to calculate its 2006 shortfall request. The 2006 shortfall as calculated by the Department was $469,535 – not the $344,478 requested by IndyGo. The Department “simply used IndyGo’s requested amount as its starting point and then reduced that amount” to account for IndyGo’s receipt of excessive tax revenues for 2008. Slip op. at 10 (emphasis added).