Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tribune Reports Hearing on Porter County Hospital's Tax Abatement Tuesday

From the Chesterton Tribune:

The Porter County Council will convene on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. for its regular monthly meeting and afterwards will hold a special meeting to hold a hearing to decide the fate of the 10-year tax abatement previously granted to Porter Regional Hospital.

Earlier this month, the Council voted 7-0 to make a “preliminary determination” that the hospital was not meeting all the terms it had agreed to in the abatement resolution granted in 2009.

Porter’s Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Harmon reported the new hospital at U.S. 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty Twp. has met the demands of the Council in terms of new full-time hires, new salaries, construction jobs, investment in new technology, and to continue to provide EMS service for the County.

The stipulation that has been in debate is the assessment value for the 430,000 square foot hospital. According to the resolution for the tax abatement, the hospital’s value of improvements should be at least $130 million.

Harmon had said construction costs had been $130 million but Porter Hospital believes its assessed value is lower by the standards set forth by the Indiana Assessment Manual.

Porter Hospital has appealed the County’s 2012 and 2013 assessments and asserts the taxable assessed value should be lower than $40 million.

Council members who were part of the vote to accept the abatement five years ago said they had heard the Porter’s CEO and attorneys say that $130 million would be the assessed value which would be a benefit for Porter County taxpayers.

Harmon said negotiations are taking place with County Assessor Jon Snyder on a possible solution. She had said hospital officials were willing to accept an assessment of $85 million, but the Council ended up rejecting that offer.

Porter Hospital officials are expected to attend the hearing on Tuesday, as is Assessor Snyder.

Following the hearing, the Council will have the choice to revoke the abatement, its attorney Scott McClure said. The hospital could appeal the revocation to the Circuit Courts, he said.

The Council will meet in Room 205 of the County Administration Building, 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.