County council members had hoped Tuesday evening to take advantage of Kathy Lane's expertise by appointing her to one of the three positions on the property tax appeals board.
A former county assessor with the required qualifications for serving on the board, Lane seemed a logical choice — and she was more the willing to serve, always an important quality.
But at least for now, Lane won't be taking a seat at the table.
For Lane's day job is city clerk-treasurer, a position to which she was elected last November. Because property tax appeals board members are paid a per diem for their service, she wouldn't be able to continue as clerk-treasurer if she accepted the appointment.
Both are considered lucrative positions by the Indiana Attorney General's office.
City attorney J. David Roellgen, in the audience at City Hall for the county council's meeting, quickly stepped in to prevent Lane from accepting the appointment, indicating that if she did she would in effect be resigning her position as clerk-treasurer.
“And I'm sure clerk-treasurer pays more than the board per diem,” he said in jest.
At-large member Harry Nolting, who earlier had been re-elected as council vice president, assumed it was a matter of conflict of interest, but couldn't work out just where such conflict would arise between Lane's duties with the city and her position on the property tax appeals board.
Nolting related that when he'd been first elected to the council he had to resign his post on the Area Plan Commission because, or so he thought, the council approved the commission's budget.
His continued service would on both bodies would constitute a conflict of interest.
No, explained Roellgen, it was because the Attorney General's office considered both to be lucrative positions.
“That means we must have 50 people who are breaking the law in Knox County,” Nolting said.
To which Roellgen shook his head in the affirmative.
Bob Lechner, who was also re-elected as the council's president, found a ray of hope for Lane in that on the list of lucrative positions found in the Attorney General's “Dual Officeholding Guide,” he couldn't find property tax appeals board member.
But both Roellgen and county attorney Drew Porter cautioned that just because it wasn't listed didn't mean it wasn't considered a lucrative position, only that there had yet to be a ruling one way or the other.
“This could be that case,” Roellgen said of Lane's being appointed.
In the absence of such a ruling, and given that membership on the property tax appeals board does come with a per diem, there would be a prima facie case that is was.
Roellgen pointed out it wouldn't matter whether Lane accepted or declined the per diem. That it came with the appointment was enough.
Given there wasn't much chance of the board being required to meet in the next few weeks, Porter suggested the council hold off on the board appointment until he had the chance to receive some ruling from the Attorney General's office.
The council agreed to continue to meet on the second Tuesday of the month, beginning at 5 p.m., at City Hall, 201 Vigo St.
And members agree to table, at member David Culp's request, approval of a resolution on “Regular Meeting Procedures.”
Culp said he had suggests to make regarding possible changes.