Chesterton Tribune



County Auditor lays out roadmap for hospital tax collections

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Porter County Auditor Robert Wichlinski said he will be getting parties together for a meeting that he hopes will clarify what Porter Regional Hospital will owe in taxes following the County Councilís decision to allow the hospital to retain its ten-year abatement.

Wichlinski said he will be making phone calls after distributing this yearís first round of tax revenue disbursements to the countyís local taxing units. The goal, he said, is to have the correct values for the hospital -- the building, the land, and all personal property -- included in the countyís net AV figures for next yearís tax bills due to the state by Aug. 1.

County Assessor Jon Snyder gave the new valuations on the hospitalís personal and real property to the County Council last Tuesday after the hospital agreed to a $130 million assessed value for years 2013 and 2014 on the hospital itself. Hospital officials also vowed to drop all pending appeals on the 430,000 sq. ft. facility at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6.

As a result, the County Council voted 5-1, with one abstention, to affirm Porter Regional Hospital is in compliance with its property tax abatement resolution.

But even with the new valuations, Wichlinski said ďWe donít know what the net effect of the hospital will be quite yet with respect to the tax rates.Ē Thatís what he hopes to accomplish in a joint meeting of the Assessor, the Treasurer, hospital representatives, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance and Jim Bennett, the Auditorís paid financial advisor, who will read through the abatement agreement.

ďI want to get all involved parties together and figure what has been calculated and what has been paid,Ē said Wichlinski.

According to County Treasurer Mike Bucko, the hospital paid its bill for 2012 pay 2013 taxes at $595,434 for its two installments when it was originally assessed at $34 million. It paid one installment of $297,709 the following year because it was under appeal, Bucko said. When a taxpayer appeals, they are billed the previously agreed assessment, he said.

Wichlinski said in April he mailed amended tax bills totaling $5.5 million to the hospital based on the assessed values figured by the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals. Those bills were $117 million for 2012 and $244.5 million for 2013. The hospital did not pay those citing the appeal to the Indiana Board of Tax Review.

The auditorís office will mail the hospital corrected tax bills with the final figures from the assessorís office once the deductions are applied, said Wichlinski. He also plans to report to the respective taxing units how they will be affected by the hospitalís taxes, and share the data on how local taxpayers will be affected through the press.

Tax rate uncertainty

Those who will see the most changes are residents in Liberty Twp., Wichlinski said. Despite claims last week by some local officials that the taxpayers there will see their burdens eased with the hospitalís AV, Wichlinski said it is too early to determine if the tax rate will drop.

Liberty Twp.ís tax rate this year was 1.7230, slightly lower than 2013ís rate of 1.740.

To come up with the tax rate, units of government including the county, township, library and fire districts submit their budgets for the year to the Indiana DLGF, which sets a tax levy, or how much each unit may raise in property taxes. The rate is then determined by the total tax levy divided by total net assessed value per $100, according to the DLGFís website.

Office building

Wichlinski said his office also looks to bill the hospitalís 60,000 sq. ft. adjacent medical office building, which is not owned by Porter Health Systems but by The Sanders Trust, which will get a separate parcel number and will be put on the tax rolls. The office had been included in the hospitalís initial assessment of $244.5 million in 2013, but has been separated from the new value of $130 million and is not part of the hospitalís abatement.

Snyder told the Chesterton Tribune he plans to assess the office building according to the guidelines in the Indiana Assessors Manual.

ďItís not like the hospital in terms of complexity. Itís something we should be able to do in house.Ē


Posted 7/1/2014