ANDERSON — For the want of a signature on a letter to a bank, a local company threatened to repossess three trucks purchased by Madison County.

Stoops Freightliner contacted Madison County Auditor Rick Gardner on Thursday indicating that without the necessary lease payment the trucks will be repossessed.

Gardner and several members of the Madison County Council were working to obtain the necessary signature so the payment could be made.

Madison County purchased three trucks for the Highway Department and lawn equipment from Bendle’s Lawn Equipment through a lease/purchase agreement.

The financing for the purchase of the equipment was approved in April and finalized in June.

What is delaying payment, according to Gardner, is the lack of a signature of Madison County Attorney Jonathan Hughes of the Indianapolis law firm of Bose McKinney & Evans on a letter to the bank stating the county was a tax-exempt organization.

Hughes said Friday in an email that "Star Financial Back is requiring an Opinion of Counsel before paying for vehicles."

"The Opinion is not just simply whether Madison County is tax exempt. It also requires additional certifications. An attorney would need additional information before the Opinion could be signed."

No action has been taken by the Madison County commissioners recently to have their attorney sign the necessary letter.

Stoops Freightliner informed the county that it was going to repossess two trucks already used by the county highway department and wouldn’t deliver a third being received by the dealership this week.

Gardner said he asked Stoops Freightliner for time to resolve the issue.

He said the intent is to have Ted Nolting, the attorney for the Madison County Council, to sign the letter and have it delivered to the bank.

Gardner said a payment of $558,000 is past due to both Stoops and Bendle’s as of Thursday.

He said Bendle’s is owed approximately $180,000 of the amount and Stoops is due a payment of $378,000.

Members of the Madison County Council raised concerns about nonpayments to vendors during a special meeting Tuesday to address the dispute with the Board of Commissioners over the payment of legal fees to Bose McKinney & Evans.

“Any department that has a professional services or legal fees fund should continue to do business,” Council President Pete Heuer said.

Earlier this year, the commissioners said any expenditure by a county office over $5,000 had to be approved by the commissioners along with any legal services.

Gardner said the Indiana State Board of Accounts said it was not up to the commissioners to “micromanage” other departments.

“There is business that needs to be done,” he said.

Earlier this year, the council denied the commissioners’ request for funding to pay Bose McKinney & Evans for work performed and for the remainder of 2020.

Since that time, the commissioners have delayed action on several pending issues because of no legal representation.

Councilwoman Lisa Hobbs on Tuesday raised concerns about the nonpayment of the lease/purchase agreements that were awaiting signatures from Stoops Freightliner and Bendle’s.

Hobbs expressed concerns that the equipment would be repossessed for nonpayment.
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