Chesterton Tribune



Auditor to correct hospital bill for redevelopment fee by $400K

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Porter Regional Hospital will not be billed $600,000 for economic development as recently stated by Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski.

Instead, the hospital is to receive a corrected bill by next week for $200,000 due to the County.

Earlier figures this month from the Auditor’s office had indicated that the hospital owed the County $600,000, supposedly stemming from the resolution of the ten-year property tax abatement agreed to by the Porter County Council and the hospital in 2009.

Wichlinski met with tax representatives along with County Assessor Jon Snyder during the past few weeks to configure a new tax bill for the hospital now that the hospital has been reassessed after years of property assessment appeals which delayed applying the abatement.

Following the discussions, Wichlinski concluded that the County owes the hospital a refund of $512,151, the difference between how much the hospital has paid in taxes on the property so far under the appeals and what credits they would have received with the abatement.

Also, the resolution for the abatement stipulates the hospital must annually give the County 10 percent of taxes abated, which is capped at $100,000. In other words, as long as the abated amount is $1 million or more for that year, the hospital must pay a fee of $100,000 to the County.

Wichlinski said he believed the rule applied to the hospital’s real property and personal property, attributing that idea to a report done by Cender and Company. According to Wichlinski, the tax bill would have been for three years, with $100,000 for real property and $100,000 for personal property each year, for a lump sum of $600,000.

The figure of $600,000 was reported at last week’s Porter County Redevelopment Commis-sion, which discussed including the amount in its budget.

However, the Council’s attorney Scott McClure said the fee should only apply to real property.

“From where I’m sitting, reading [the resolution], the hospital would only owe $200,000” for 2013 and 2014, McClure told the Chesterton Tribune this week.

The County Council’s budget and financial specialist Vicki Urbanik also questioned the $600,000 amount. She said she talked with County Council members who were in office at the time the abatement was approved in 2009 and said they too thought the fee would only come from real property. “This is something that should be thoroughly researched and understood by all parties involved,” she said.

Urbanik, a Democrat, is challenging Wichlinski, a Republican, in this November’s general election.

Dan Botich of Cender and Company, who wrote the report and is also the financial advisor to the County’s RDC, agreed with McClure. Botich said personal property couldn’t be assessed a fee because the resolution only applies to fees that are abated. For the hospital, only its real property, the building itself, falls under the abatement, he said.

The hospital is expected to pay up to the $100,000 cap through 2017, about halfway through the abatement period, Botich said.

Wichlinski told the Chesterton Tribune he gets the personal property information from the Assessor’s Office. He has now corrected the bill to $200,000, reflecting the fee on real property.

The $512,151 due to the hospital can be refunded by check or by applying the credit to next year’s tax bill. That will be up to officials at Porter Health, Wichlinski said.

The hospital will owe the County $105,326 in taxes for its fall installment for 2014.



Posted 8/29/2014




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