Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Times Reports Hospital Deal Ends Tax Value Sore Spot in Porter County

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

We're glad to see the feud over the value of Porter Regional Hospital settled. 
Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder reached a deal with hospital offices to value the hospital at $130 million, the minimum set for the 225-bed hospital to comply with a 10 year tax abatement.
Hospital officials had tried to get the hospital value set at $39.3 million, and later at $85 million, while a professional appraiser hired by the county set the value at $244.5 million.
That reaches middle ground, more or less, between the two extreme values.
The deal was announced shortly before the Porter County Council was to hold a hearing June 24 on the fate of tax breaks for the hospital after finding the hospital out of compliance with the terms of the agreement.
The tax abatement, which is retroactive, gradually phases in taxes on the full value of the hospital. Tax abatements are generally used as an incentive to spur economic development. Although the hospital's owner was contractually obligated to build a new facility, county and hospital officials said the tax break meant building a larger hospital, with 225 beds.
County Council members were pleased with the deal Snyder reached.
"Well done," Council President Dan Whitten said.
"You're a wonderful corporate neighbor," said Council Vice President Karen Conover, who — along with Whitten — had earlier sent the hospital a letter threatening to revoke the tax abatement during the dispute over the tax value.
They're right to commend Snyder and hospital officials for reaching this agreement. 
This deal not only ends the rancor but also ends costly legal fees for Porter County and the hospital. Had the county lost its case against the hospital, it could have been forced to pay the hospital's legal fees, too — not to mention the lost revenue from the lower tax value that could have been set.
It preserves the hospital's tax abatement while protecting taxpayers. It's a good settlement all around.