Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

April 11, 2014

Bunker Hill dangerously close to bankruptcy

Clerk: 'This town has been running on thin ice. The ice finally broke.'

(Continued)

“I was doing everything I could to find the money,” she said. “I said our town is going bankrupt. We are going to have to close unless I get some money.”

Wilson said the governor’s office responded immediately. They contacted the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance and the State Board of Accounts, who called the IRS.

The IRS responded by sending an expedited tax refund so the town could keep the lights on.

Wilson said the town should receive a $32,000 refund in the next few days. She said the IRS ended up taking more than $6,000 out of the refund because the town hadn’t paid any utility receipt tax since 2009.

Then the town got another boost.

The unincorporated town of Miami, located about 5 miles south of Bunker Hill, is building a new sewage collection system that will pipe its waste to the Bunker Hill water treatment plant.

The Miami Sewer Board, which is overseeing the project, cut a $30,000 check earlier this week to start paying for the waste treatment, Wilson said.

“That money literally saved this town,” she said. “I can sit back now for a few days and breathe again.”

Wilson said the tax refund and waste-treatment check should be enough to pull the town through until June, when it will receive more than $180,000 in property taxes to refill the coffers.

The county distributes property taxes owed to every local taxing unit twice a year.

Until then, though, Wilson said she’s keeping a hawkish eye on each expenditure the town makes.

“I will not let people just go out and spend money,” she said. “I’ve put a stop to it … As long as we watch what we spend and only do mandatory or emergency spending, we’ll make it.”

Wilson said the town will remain tight-fisted until it builds up its funds. She and the town council also are working to put together a state-approved budget for the first time in four years, Wilson said.

The Indiana State Board of Accounts is conducting an audit and investigation into the town’s finances. Wilson said town officials are working closely with agency to help solve its budget woes.

“This town has been running on thin ice, and the ice finally broke,” she said. “Now, we’re trying to save it again.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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