Chesterton Tribune



Hearing for Hospital tax abatement Tuesday

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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.

Regular meeting

Meanwhile, during its regular business meeting, the Council will hear requests for transfers and additionals from a few County departments.

The County Commissioners will request a transfer of $14,203 from PERF to Workman’s Comp to cover a Workman’s Comp audit for the Sheriff’s Department. They will also request a $2,500 in CEDIT funding assistance from furniture and fixtures to equipment to deal with problems with a microwave repeater radio system serving the County Sheriff’s Police, EMS, EMA, and the Highway Department.

The County Sheriff’s Department will ask the Council to approve title changes for its Records Division Manager, Assistant Manager, and Data Entry Clerk.

The Highway Department seeks a transfer of $77,500 to vehicle repair and maintenance from its Motor Vehicle funds it receives from the state. The harsh winter weather depleted supplies and caused repairs to be needed on damaged vehicles.

The Juvenile Probation Department seeks to reduce one of its salaries from $51,568 to $30,839 as the position recently given up by a former employee will be filled by an entry level employee.

In County Parks requests, an additional of $9,900 is sought from the Parks Foundation grant for new curriculum and supplies. The Parks Department will ask for a $5,800 transfer from Power to Workman’s Comp as there has been a shortage in insurance.

Also, the Council will vote on whether to approve the first payout of employee longevity this year, worth $179,250, from the money it receives from the state’s Riverboat/Casino fund.


Posted 6/23/2014