COLUMBIA CITY — With questions, confusion and downright dissension surrounding who will collect money from the Amish for their buggy plates, Whitley County’s auditor, Jen McGuire stepped up, volunteered and put the dicey issue to bed once and for all.
In January, the Whitley County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to give the responsibility to County Assessor Angela Adams.
The change came about as a result of differences in assessing duties as mandated by state law.
In the past, property assessing was done at the township level. In conjunction with that, Cleveland Township Assessor Ron King also sold “buggy plates” to operators of horse-drawn vehicles.
In a move that Commissioner Don Amber said was in the interest of convenience for Whitley County’s Amish residents, it was decided to give the buggy plate sales job to Adams, since she took on all assessing duties in response to the state statute.
On Monday, Adams spoke to the commissioners and outlined what she thought would be problems with the proposed system.
“I would need a safe and a locking drawer,” she said.
“I’m looking at $3,500 sitting in my office and I don’t have a safe.”
One option discussed was the possibility of the money being turned into the highway department, since the proceeds from the buggy plate sales go to that department anyway.
It was decided the money could be turned into the auditor, who would in turn forward the funds to the highway department.
“I’m not concerned about selling buggy plates,” said Adams. “I’m more concerned about the safety of the money.”
Amber said he doubted the need for a safe and cash drawer should the assessor’s office be tasked with selling the plates, but voted with Tom Rethlake and George Schrumpf to transfer the duties to McGuire’s office.
“In the end, it’s going to have to come to the auditor’s office to get to the highway anyway,” said McGuire.
According to the commissioners, residents who purchase buggy plates, primarily members of the Amish community, used to engage in one-stop shopping — purchasing their buggy plates when they went to the township offices to be assessed.
The single-stop concept will stay intact with the new decision by the commission, only the residents will be taking care of both tasks at the Whitley County Government Center.