Q&A: Public notice rules

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From the Banner Graphic (Greencastle):

Q: The Putnam Coun­ty Council ran a public notice for a real estate property tax sale in the Banner Graphic (two times) and also in a free weekly (two times).

When I asked one of the council members about it she told me that the state board of accounts told them it had to be in two papers. What is the council’s publication obligation? 

A: IC 6-1.1-24-3 requires the county auditor to publish the tax sale notice once each week for three consecutive weeks, pursuant to IC 5-3-1-4.

IC 5-3-1-4(a) requires the county to publish its notices in two newspapers located in the county. A newspaper is defined at IC 5-3-1-0.4. As far as I know, the Banner Graphic is the only newspaper as defined by that statute in Putnam County.

IC 5-3-1-4(b) says that if there is only one newspaper in a county, publication in that newspaper is sufficient to meet the requirements for notice.

A free publication would not fit the definition of a newspaper.

However, it might be a “qualified” publication as defined by IC 5-3-1-0.6.

The county could supplement its notice by placing the ad in a qualified publication, which is permitted under IC 5-3-1-4(f).

The concern I would have is whether the free weekly would be eligible to carry public notices as a qualified publication in Putnam County.

Its location is based on its standard mail permit point of entry into the U.S. mail stream. If that publication’s original point of entry isn’t in Putnam County, then it would not be eligible to carry that county’s public notice advertisements.

If the free weekly lists a Putnam County location as its original point of entry, then the county could use, but is not required to use, that publication to supplement the public notice required.

The only publication the county is required to use is the Banner Graphic.

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

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