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A funny thing happened while you were out of the office

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Huntington Township Assessor Joan Stoffel has filed a lawsuit claiming a new state law that phased out elected township assessors is unconstitutional. Stoffel is seeking class-action status on behalf of more than 100 township assessors.

Under the property tax restructuring law, township assessors were required to transfer their duties to county assessors by July 1. The law grants township assessors pay and benefits through 2008, and their titles through 2010.

It seems Stoffel’s rival in Huntington County had a more aggressive timetable in mind.

In mid-May, while Stoffel and other employees were attending a weeklong training seminar, County Assessor Terri Boone told the remaining staff to move everything to the county assessor’s office, including phones, computers and files. She allegedly had the locks changed on Stoffel’s office and denied Stoffel access to files and records.

Stoffel is suing to keep her job through 2010. “Under Indiana’s constitution and contract law, when voters say we will hire you for four years and pay you, then it’s a contract,” said her attorney, John Price.

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