Porter County Council meeting, Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, attempted to
make a motion to withdraw the ten-year abatement for Porter Hospital saying
he’s tired of the “shenanigans for the better part of two years.”
Biggs said there
has been insufficient communication from Porter Hospital representatives to
his questions, such as why the original building permits for the hospital
and the nearby office building have gone missing from the Plan Commission
office, why the existing permits have inconsistent information and why the
Assessor has not been allowed inside the office building to assess it.
“I think it should
matter what kind of relationship we have and so far that relationship is
one-sided,” Biggs said.
He also expressed
frustration regarding the dispute over the assessment, with the hospital
arguing its’ value is under $40 million and the County saying it’s $244.5
million. The dispute has prevented the County from collecting taxes.
“How on God’s green
earth are we ever going to come to some middle ground?” he said, expressing
his belief that the abatement should never have been granted in the first
Dan Whitten, D-at large, said he felt it was improper of Biggs to make the
motion since he was not on the Council when the abatement was granted in
2009. The issues with the building permits and the assessments are not the
Council’s concern, Whitten said, only the determination of whether the
hospital is in the compliance with the terms of the abatement.
Biggs said he
didn’t believe the hospital is in compliance, which Whitten agreed with,
because Porter has not agreed to a $130 million or higher assessment.
Whitten said Porter
Hospital is aware of the current non-compliance because they received the
letter which he and Council Vice-President Karen Conover, R-3rd, sent
informing them the terms of the abatement require that the hospital be
valued at $130 million or higher. The letter gives the opportunity to
reconcile the value or give up the abatement.
Whitten said the
goal for the Council is to make sure the taxpayers get “the best bang for
their buck” out of the hospital and that could be through the abatement.
Biggs alleged there
is a lack of diplomacy on the hospital’s part considering the County has
been generous in awarding Porter the County ambulance contract and clinical
services for County employees.
“I don’t have
sucker written across my forehead. I will not agree to this abatement,”
The Council ended
up not voting on Biggs’ motion.