Monday, June 23, 2014

Post-Tribune Reports Porter County Auditor Alleged to have Misled Council on Assessed Value of Hospital

From the Gary Post-Tribune:

Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski appears to have misled the county council in April about including Porter Regional Hospital in the county’s overall assessed valuation.
According to internal documents from the county’s property tax system, as well as old and corrected tax bills sent to the hospital in late April, the hospital property, valued at the time at $4.7 million, was included in the county’s certified net assessed valuation for 2012 and 2013, but the hospital itself was not.
Hospital officials are appealing the facility’s assessment for 2012 and 2013, but the amounts of $34 million and $39 million including the land and the structure for those two years, respectively, are not disputed.
Several sources have confirmed to the Post-Tribune that the hospital’s assessed valuation, or AV, was not included in the county’s certified net AV.
“There’s absolutely no risk in putting in $39 million for the value. That’s what they say they’re worth. Why would you withhold any of that?” said Council President Dan Whitten, D-At-large. “From the county council perspective, what did you really put in the assessed valuation, why did you lie to us, and why did you inflate the tax rate? Because then he overcollected from the taxpayers.”
In a brief phone conversation this week, Wichlinski said he amended tax bills as the county’s Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals made successive rulings on the hospital’s AV.
He insisted, as he did at the April council meeting, that the hospital is in the county’s certified net AV, at $34 million for both 2012 and 2013.
“I’ll certify at a number I know they’ll pay,” when it comes to taxes, he said. He did not return repeated requests to meet or talk further by phone about the matter.