- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

BUNKER HILL, Ind. (AP) - Leaders of a small town in northern Indiana say they’ve avoided having to lay off all its employees thanks to an expected $32,000 federal tax refund.

Officials in the Miami County town of Bunker Hill blame the troubles on mismanagement by its former clerk-treasurer, such as running up $19,000 in penalties on unpaid bills and paying health insurance premiums for former employees long after they left their jobs, the Kokomo Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1qFTzwA ).

New Clerk-Treasurer Lisa Wilson, who took office in January, said an internal audit found the town had overpaid federal taxes since 2007.

Wilson said that without the refund the town’s bank account would have been empty after paying its eight employees next month.

“Literally, after payroll, we were looking at having nothing. Nada,” she said.

Wilson said the town of some 900 people about midway between South Bend and Indianapolis should receive $32,000 from the IRS in the coming days. She said the IRS ended up taking more than $6,000 from the refund request because the town hadn’t paid any utility receipt tax since 2009.

The town’s bank account also is getting a boost from nearby community making a $30,000 payment this week for the start of service from its wastewater treatment plant.

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

Wilson said those payments will give the town enough money to last until June, when it will receive more than $180,000 in its normal property tax distributions from the county.

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 the agency to help solve its budget troubles.

“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.”

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

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