July 1, 2014

PUBLIC FORUM: Option of transfer not open to county

Option of transfernot open to county

Memorial Home was built during the Civil War by a New York banker. He had the home constructed as a copy of one on the Hudson River, called “the Castle.” The home was built to please his wife who was reluctant to come to the wilds of Indiana. The banker later lost money, left town, and the building became a Presbyterian academy, then a boarding house, and later the home of Judge Baldwin until the County purchased it as a memorial in 1920.

Memorial Home as a war memorial was established by petition of the people and was paid for through taxation.

The minutes of the County Commissioners’ May 19 meeting suggest that they might decide to give away or auction the Memorial Home. I doubt that the County executive has the authority to give away or auction its world war memorial which was funded by bonds. The Commissioners are mandated to provide a fund necessary for the management, maintenance, repair, and improvement of the county world war memorial; and they are mandated to raise money for the fund by taxation in the manner provided by law for all other county expenses. I.C. 10-18-2-12(1) and (3). The law prevents any injunction against enforcement of the world war memorial law: the law prohibits any effort to prevent the levy or collection of taxes related to the memorial. I.C. 10-18-2-21.

The County Executive’s suggestion that it might auction the memorial conflicts with the County’s duty to tax and maintain the memorial.

The County’s powers and duties related to maintenance of the memorial are the same powers and duties conferred upon the Indiana War Memorials Commission insofar as the powers and duties not be inconsistent. I.C. 10-18-2-19 and I.C. 10-18-1 et seq. That Monument in Indianapolis “shall be maintained perpetually and inviolate for the purpose originally designed.” I.C. 10-18-1-23. The duty to perpetually maintain our County War Memorial is consistent with the public funding of its creation in the first place.

Insofar as the County more recently says it might transfer its interest to the City, the law does not provide such an opportunity to the County. The law does permit the creation of a joint county and city monument, but then the city subjects itself to the same ongoing duty to maintain the world war memorial.

Jim Brugh


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