Q&A: Cost of public notices


From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

Q: I’m doing a story on the effort to re-establish the publication of the notice of budget hearing. Opponents cite the cost of publication as a reason to eliminate all publication of public notices.

Do you know how much public notices cost across the state?

A: Updating an Association of Indiana Counties estimate, HSPA calculated the cost in 2013 for state and local government agencies to publish public notices in newspapers at $2.039 million.

With 4,945,857 adult Hoosiers, the average cost is 41 cents per adult. You can’t buy a candy bar for that amount.

Even if the initial Associ­ation of Indiana Counties report was incorrect by, say, 50 percent and the actual cost was $3 million, that still breaks down to a tax cost of 61 cents per adult Hoosier.

Newspapers also offer a third-party element to the public notice process to make sure the public receives the notices in a timely manner. The notices are archivable for historical reference in newspapers.

They also are verifiable as legal proof of publication. (You can’t hack a printed newspaper).

There isn’t a more cost-effective way to put this valuable information into the hands of the public.

Opponents will argue everyone can see it on the Internet, but the truth is the notices would be hidden in plain sight on government websites because they don’t attract enough eyeballs compared to newspapers.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.