Chesterton Tribune



Hospital appeal denied; assessment $244.5 million

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The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals voted 2-0 Thursday to deny Porter Regional Hospitalís appeal of its $244.5 million assessment in 2013 based on lack of prima facie market evidence on the hospitalís part.

PTABOA President Joe Wszolek said the hospital had the burden of proof to challenge the County Assessorís value because its physical property had increased by more than five percent. The hospital construction was only 90 percent complete at its last assessment date in 2012, he said.

To overcome that burden, the hospital had to provide market data for evidence.

The 430,000 sq. ft. hospital is located at 85 E. U.S. 6 in Liberty Twp.

Tax representatives from the hospital argued that County Assessor Jon Snyderís assessment should be thrown out because he did not follow the stateís assessment cost model approach.

Donald Feicht Jr. of Uzelac & Associates said that the assessment manual clearly points out that full line hospitals are to be assessed as general office space.

Snyder used an appraisal done by Jack Poteet of the Kansas-based Hospital Appraisal Services to come up with the $244.5 million value which includes the hospital building improvements and the land.

The hospital believes the value should be closer to $39 million based on the stateís models.

PTABOA member Vicki Urbanik agreed with Snyderís argument that the stateís manual states that assessing officials may consider other types of information relevant to applying the cost-approach method if they are applicable and relevant to the type of property being assessed.

Urbanik questioned if the board should consider giving the hospital a new value by cutting out the attached 60,000 sq. ft. office building that is owned not by the hospital but by The Sanders Trust of Birmingham, Ala.

Wszolek and PTABOA attorney Christopher Buckley said the hospital had not made that request when it made its case for the appeal and therefore it cannot be considered as evidence.

With no market data presented on the hospitalís part, Urbanik and Wszolek approved a motion to deny. The assessment will now revert back to Snyderís $244.5 million value.

ď(The hospital) did not make a prima facie case,Ē Wszolek said.

The PTABOAís third member, Valparaiso realtor Nick Sommers, recused himself from voting due to a business relationship he has with Porter Hospital.

The hospital can appeal to the Indiana Tax Board of Review, Wszolek said, where it will again have the burden of proof.

The PTABOA in December voted to deny Porterís 2012 assessment of $34 million because a tax abatement compliance form filled out by Porterís CEO indicated construction costs of the hospital were estimated to be $130 million. The PTABOA ruled that assessment should be $117 million because the construction was 90 percent complete.

The hospital has since appealed the ruling to the Indiana Board of Tax Review.


Posted 3/24/2014




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