Chesterton Tribune

Scott questions state's drop in ArcelorMittal assessment

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Only a week after Porter County Assessor John Scott agreed to withdraw his 2007 and 2008 tax appeals concerning ArcelorMittal’s steel facility in Burns Harbor, Scott may do battle on the 2010 preliminary assessment.

Scott told the Chesterton Tribune on Wednesday he received a memorandum from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance saying that the plant’s assessed value has declined more than $8 million.

“Thant kind of depreciation doesn’t happen overnight,” said Scott.

Indiana DLGF said the assessment now sits at $116,764,400, a sizeable drop compared to the 2009 tax assessment of $125,045,800. The drop showed up in the improvements column of the tax bill calculation. The land value however remained consistent.

Amanda Stanley, communications specialist for the DLGF, said this morning the DLGF indicated in the information passed on to Scott the decrease was related to depreciation and current market data. Assessment in Indiana is done based on market value-in-use.

Scott said he would like the DLGF to let him know how they came up with the new figure. He has passed the information along to the county council and the commissioners and hopes he can get the state to hold a public meeting at the Porter County Administration Center to explain to the county how they came up with the assessment.

“We need to know what (the state) is doing because I can’t explain it to the people,” said Scott. He said he wonders how the property assessment could decline when all industrial and commercial properties are raised at one percent.

Scott said he will speak with his tax attorney Marilyn Meighen who he retained in his efforts to appeal the state’s 2007 and 2008 assessments, which were close to $126 million. Scott has argued the Mittal property should be assessed at $80,000 per acre instead of $19,000. He feels the assessment should be close to $335 million while Mittal has argued an even lower assessment of $91 million.

A closed meeting was held last Thursday between Scott and the attorneys which resulted in both the county and Mittal eventually coming to an agreement to withdraw their appeals in order to bring stability to the assessment. The agreement still remains open as of today.

Scott did not say if he would try to appeal the 2010 assessment but is searching for clarification. Recent changes to the appeal law have made it more difficult for county assessors to appeal assessments, needing substantial evidence or risk the chance of not being able to make any further appeals. Mittal and the assessor have 30 days to make comment on the assessment.

 

 

Posted 3/25/2010