Times Reports Lots at Stake in Property Value Fight Over Porter County Hospital
From the Northwest Indiana Times:
It does not take a lot of number crunching to understand why Porter Regional Hospital is putting up such a fight to lower the assessed value of its new facility, while attempting to keep 10 years of tax breaks from flat lining.
The hospital was sent a tax bill this year of nearly $5.7 million based on an assessed value of $244.5 million.
The hospital has argued the assessed value should actually be $39.3 million, which would reduce its annual bill to less than $1 million, according to Jim Bennett, a financial adviser to the auditor and other county offices.
Even if the assessed value is increased to $85 million as offered by the hospital as part of the ongoing debate, its bill would still be no more than $2 million, Bennett said.
The hospital's battle to lower the assessed value, which is now pending before the Indiana Board of Tax Review, has jeopardized the 10-year tax abatement approved five years ago by the County Council though not yet implemented.
In a rare instance of unanimity, the council agreed June 5 the hospital is out of compliance with the requirements for the abatement by failing to build a hospital with an assessed value of at least $130 million. The hospital would pay no property taxes during the first year of the abatement and then see its bill grow by increments until it is whole at year ten.
Hospital Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Harmon made a failed attempt to convince the council the hospital is in compliance by having invested more than $130 million in construction costs, even though the health care provider now believes its assessed value for tax purposes is quite a bit less.
The council scheduled a hearing at 6 p.m. June 24 to give hospital officials the opportunity to respond to the finding.