Chesterton Tribune



Hospital still in compliance with tax abatement, Council rules

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Porter Regional Hospital is making good on its promises to Porter County Government in its agreement for a ten-year tax abatement.

The Council on Tuesday voted 6-0 to accept the latest compliance form submitted by the Hospital, which is required by state statute to be filed with and reviewed by the Council each year according to County Auditor Vicki Urbanik.

Abstaining from the vote was Council member Dan Whitten, D-at large, who stepped out of the meeting while the motion to accept the CF-1 compliance form was being discussed.

This is the Hospital’s fifth year of abatement. The assessed value (AV) for 2016 pay 2017 was $123,500,000 and Urbanik said the AV is expected to be lower next year. The hospital reported it has retained more than 126 new employees since it opened in 2012, which was one of the terms of the resolution approved for the tax abatement.

The Hospital is also required to pay 10 percent of taxes abated each year back to the County for economic development, which is capped at $100,000.

“Looking at this report, it is clear to me they are in compliance,” said Council President Mike Jessen, R-4th. Council Attorney Harold Harper agreed.

Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, asked Hospital CEO Stephen Lunn if the hospital had any outstanding appeals on their property taxes. Lunn said those had been resolved about two years ago and there are no appeals at this time.

Animal control officers

In other business, the Council unanimously approved moving budgetary items for and the salaries of Animal Control officers into the Animal Shelter budget from the Sheriff’s budget in response to the County Commissioners’ recent decision to move oversight of animal control back to the shelter.

A figure of $55,659 in salaries was appropriated in the Shelter’s general fund budget for the remainder of the year. The County now provides Animal Control throughout Porter County except within the City of Portage, which retains its own animal control officers. The City however did sign an agreement with the County to have the Animal Shelter take their animals, rather than the Hobart Humane Society.

Council member Andy Bozak, R-1st, said he would like to see reports on which municipalities are paying their animal control fee. Urbanik told Bozak she can get him that information but said that all municipalities that have contracts with the County are paying their fee.

The Council next commended Animal Shelter Director Toni Bianchi for her leadership in getting the new 14,000 sq. ft. shelter up and running.

Jessen said he was “impressed” after seeing on Facebook that the Shelter received 100 beds for dogs. Bianchi said the Shelter’s Facebook page manager Curt Ellis put the call out for new beds and the goal was reached within six hours with the help of the Kuranda Beds for Animal Shelters program, offering the beds at a discounted price.

“It was fantastic,” Bianchi said.

Sheriff Pension Plan

Also Tuesday, the Council approved 7-0 an amendment to the Porter County Retirement Plan recommended by the Sheriff’s Pension Committee that would allow retired Sheriff’s Police Plan to name a beneficiary if they are unmarried.

Right now, only spouses can receive benefits from a pension plan if the officer receiving it dies, Sheriff Dave Reynolds said. It goes to no one if the officer is unmarried and the amendment is to make the plan fairer to unmarried officers, he said.

Whitten said he is in favor of the amendment but raised questions about how the plan works. He and others agreed to invited Chris Dilts, administrator for the Sheriff’s Pension, to the Council’s meeting in July.

Library Board appointment

The Council, at the start of the meeting, named Porter County Museum Director Kevin Pazour to a seat on the board of trustees for the Porter County Library System with a vote of 7-0.

Council member Karen Conover, R-3rd, made the motion to appoint Pazour rather than reappointing Deb Porter. Whitten said Porter has “done a fine job” but she believes that Pazour has the vision to move the Library System forward as he has done with the county museum.



Posted 6/27/2017




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