Local government finance issues.

Authors: Representative Daniel Leonard

Sponsors: Senator Brandt Hershman, Senator Travis Holdman

Co-Sponsors: Senator John Broden

Advisors: Representative Jeffrey Thompson, Representative Peggy Mayfield, Representative Clyde Kersey


Provides that public utility property tax returns shall be filed in the manner prescribed by the department of local government finance (DLGF). Allows a railroad car company to file its return by July 1 (rather than May 1). Authorizes a public utility company to file an amended return. Provides that the penalty assessed on a public utility company for filing a late return may not exceed $1,000. Deletes from current law the authority of the DLGF to extend the due date for a public utility company to file a return with the DLGF. Provides that if the DLGF assesses the property of a public utility company because the public utility company does not file a return, the public utility company may file a return with the DLGF and the DLGF may amend its assessment. Provides that if, after an assessment date, an exempt property is transferred or its use is changed resulting in its ineligibility for an exemption, the county assessor shall terminate the exemption for that assessment date. Specifies that if the property remains eligible for an exemption following the transfer or change in use, the exemption shall be left in place for that assessment date. Provides that for the following assessment date, the person that obtained the exemption or the current owner of the property shall file an application with the county assessor. Requires applications for certain property tax deductions to be completed and dated in the calendar year for which the taxpayer wishes to obtain the deduction and to be filed with the county auditor on or before January 5 of the immediately succeeding calendar year. Provides that a petition to correct an error must be filed within three years after the taxes were first due. Requires a political subdivision to submit to the DLGF information concerning the adoption of budgets and tax levies using the DLGF's computer gateway. Provides that publication requirements in current law continue in 2014 for 2015 budgets (along with the new requirements added in the bill concerning submission of budget and levy information to the DLGF's computer gateway). Requires the DLGF to make this information available to taxpayers through its computer gateway and provide a telephone number through which taxpayers may request copies of a political subdivision's information. Specifies that for taxes due and payable in 2015 and 2016, each county shall publish a notice stating the Internet address at which the budget information is available and the telephone number through which taxpayers may request copies of a political subdivision's budget information. Allows counties to seek reimbursement from the political subdivisions in the county for the cost of the notice. Provides that if a political subdivision timely submits the budget information to the DLGF's computer gateway but subsequently discovers the information contains a typographical error, the political subdivision may request permission from the DLGF to submit amended information. Specifies the conditions under which the DLGF shall increase a political subdivision's tax levy to an amount that exceeds the amount originally advertised or adopted by the political subdivision. Provides that if the DLGF increases a tax levy under this provision, the DLGF shall (unless the department finds extenuating circumstances) reduce the levy below the maximum allowable levy by the lesser of: (1) 5% of the difference between the advertised or adopted levy and the increased levy; or (2) $100,000. Allows DeKalb County and the towns of Middlebury, Lewisville, and Mooreland to borrow money to offset levy reductions made by the DLGF because budget and property tax levy information were not properly advertised. Eliminates the provision added in 2013 that specifies that the exemption from the property tax levy limits for property taxes to pay debt does not apply to property taxes imposed by a township to repay money borrowed under the emergency loan provisions. Specifies that the balance maintained by the provider unit of a fire protection territory may not exceed 120% of the budgeted expenses of the territory. Deletes current law requiring certain specified reporting of other post employment benefits (OPEB) information, and adds a provision requiring a political subdivision to annually report information and data on its retiree benefits and expenditures.