The Porter County
Council has invited officials from the Porter Regional Hospital to their
meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to continue discussing the details surrounding
a ten-year tax abatement granted by the Council five years ago.
The meeting will be
held in the Commissionersí chambers of the County Administration Building,
155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.
the 430,000 sq. ft. Porter Regional Hospital was completed in 2012 but the
Council must determine what assessment year the abatement, which is to be
phased out year by year, was to take effect.
President Dan Whitten, D-at large, has said that to set the abatement the
County needs to determine what the exact assessment value is and what
portions of the hospital fall under the abatement.
conversation with the Council in February, attorney Brian Hittinger, from
the firm that represented the hospital at the time the abatement was
approved, said he feels the abatement should start with a ďgeographical
footprint,Ē while the Councilís attorney Scott McClure said he believes it
should have started during the first assessment year the hospitalís
construction was complete.
Auditor Robert Wichlinski said that the hospital had not submitted the
stateís 322/RE form required to start the abatement, however it did file the
CF-1 abatement compliance forms in 2012 and 2013. Hittinger told the Council
it has statutory authority to accept a late 322/RE forms to retroactively
start the abatement.
After that meeting,
a few Council members have continued to seek out other information.
Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st, has questioned the ownership of the 60,000 sq.
ft. adjacent medical building plaza and learned itís owned by The Sanders
Trust. He said the building should not be included in the abatement because
TST never approached the Council.
looking back at the minutes from a Council meeting in July 2011, Porterís
former CEO Jonathan Nalli told the Council that the abatement would not
include the plaza.
Whitten and Council
Vice-President Karen Conover, R-3rd, made the discovery looking at the
resolution for the abatement that the new hospital is to be valued at $130
million or higher, which is the amount Nalli had reported as the
County Assessor Jon
Snyderís office assessed the hospital property and buildings at $244.5
million. The hospital last week appealed the value to the Indiana Board of
Tax Review, saying the assessment should be $39.3 million according to the
guidelines in the stateís assessment manual.
In other business,
the Council will look at responses for the Request of Information sent out
to find companies who can help set up a charitable nonprofit community
foundation for the investment of net proceeds related to the sale of Porter
The Council held a
joint session with the County Commissioners last month on the subject of
investing the hospital sale funds into an endowment to get a better return
on investment than it is currently getting to shore up funds in the
dwindling County budget.
The RFI seeks
prospective companies to give input on what experience they have in handling
public government investments and what fees will be required for their
Also on Tuesday,
the Council will revisit Wichlinskiís request to approve new titles and
salaries resulting from the recent staff restructuring in his office. The
Auditor had already eliminated five positions in his office before making
the request and cross-trained his staff to create what he says is a better
He said the move
would cut almost $250,000 out of his budget based on salary and benefits
The Council tabled
the request as some members wanted to ensure Wichlinskiís restructuring gets
the desired results.
In other requests
from various department heads, the Commissioners will ask $13,694 be
approved in CCD funds to cover office space for the Health Dept. in the
North County Complex in Portage.
They will also ask
the Council to approve a transfer of $130,000 from Federal/State Prisoner
revenue to cover consulting fees for electronics, HVAC upgrades and a sewer
screening system at the Porter County Jail.
Police will ask for $15,000 to be added to its fees budget to cover costs of
kitchen, laundry and video equipment repair that has been previously paid
out of the Commissioners budget.
The County Highway
Department will ask the Council to authorize $80,000 of Major Moves funds to
cover depleted supplies from treacherous winter weather, snow plow and pump
repairs, and to insurance due to a shortfall in calculated numbers.
The Council will
also be asked to appropriate $45,000 to the jury fund to pay jurors.
The IV-D court will
ask the Council to change the salary of a case worker from $24,420 to
$25,420 to include the 2014 $1,000 raise approved for County employees.
The County Parks
Department will request the Councilís approval to use a $50,000 matching
grant for the Childrenís Garden at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, as well as
a $4,000 additional to the Parks Capital budget for plants and landscaping
at Brincka-Cross Gardens.
Department is asking for a $20,000 total additional to its budget for
updating its tabletop graphic, reimbursement of cell phones, new food
service software, and mobile equipment travel cases for food staff.
The Animal Shelter
wishes to use $7,500 of donations to purchase stainless steel cat cages,
T-shirts and hoodies.
Office will ask for a job title change for its 4-H program Manager to be
called Extension Programs Manager.