Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, has made a discovery as the
council continues to try to wrap its head around the tax abatement granted
to Porter Regional Hospital.
At the start of
Wednesday’s joint meeting with the County Commissioners to discuss
investments, Whitten said that meeting minutes from July 26, 2011, show that
Jonathan Nalli, who was CEO of Porter Health System at the time, told the
council that the 60,000-square foot building is not under the abatement.
“If anyone asks why
the hospital did not tell us about this, they did,” Whitten said.
The minutes show
that Council Member Jim Polarek, R-4th, specifically asked Nalli whether
that building would be included in the 10-year abatement which the Council
granted unanimously in 2009.
“That is not under
the abatement,” Nalli responded, according to the minutes. “That’s actually
not a project of Porter Health System. We are leasing the grounds to a
development company that we’re working closely with for that project.”
Nalli also stated
that the office building would be connected to the hospital at 85 E. U.S.
Highway 6 in Liberty Township, that the building’s construction cost was
estimated at $11 million, and that it would be built by the same general
contractor with workers from Northwest Indiana.
before the council at that meeting to discuss the hospital’s compliance with
the statement of benefits up to that point.
The minutes also
show, however, that Nalli did not name the partner for the office building,
later identified in a press release sent to the Chesterton Tribune in
August 2011 as The Sanders Trust (TST). The release said that TST would
retain the majority ownership of the building.
At a press
conference last week, Council Member Jim Biggs, R-1st, maintained that the
building should be left out of the abatement because TST never asked the
council for it to be included. Biggs apparently also assumed that the
hospital never mentioned to the council its arrangement with TST but the
July 26, 2011, minutes show both that he was at that meeting and that he
seconded a motion to approve the hospital’s statement of compliance report.
Biggs has said that
he was unable to get answers about the building’s owner from hospital
officials at the Feb. 27 council meeting, so took it upon himself to
research the matter.
surrounding the abatement will continue at the council’s next meeting in
April. All seven members voted in favor of asking hospital officials to