The question of how Burns Harbor’s certified assessed valuation decreased
from $507.6 million in 2014 to $495.7 million in 2015 while property values
have been rising has been answered. At Wednesday’s Burns Harbor Town Council
meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan announced that there was a “significant
error” caught in the AV that had been sent to the Department of Local
Government Finance last fall.
The error stemmed from the personal property tax abatement for ArcelorMittal,
which resulted in a missing AV amount of $24 million, according to Porter
County Auditor Vicki Urbanik.
Jordan said she suspected something was wrong when she saw a drop in the
town’s AV last year, when the town’s growth quotient was supposed to move
from four to nine percent. She said she had attempted to contact the
auditor’s office about it but received no response.
Urbanik said when she took office in January she began an overview of all
the county’s abated properties and saw while she was putting together a
legal notice that the abatements had not been updated last year under the
watch of the previous auditor. As a result, the additional values that would
have fallen off of abatements and onto the tax rolls for 2014 pay 2015 were
Affected in the error along with ArcelorMittal was the town’s other property
abatement, J. Ryerson and Son, which paled in comparison, with only $36,000
of missing AV, Urbanik said.
Urbanik said an additional $20 million of taxable AV will be put back on the
County’s overall total now that the corrections are made.
She added the businesses are not at fault in any way for the errors.
The lower AV ended up driving Burns Harbor’s tax rate higher than what it
should have been, Jordan said, which means taxpayers essentially overpaid on
Jordan contacted the DLGF, which will determine and make a report at the end
of this year on how much in excess funds the town has and will hold that
amount in a “levy excess fund.” Since the determination will not be made
until 2016, the town will have to hold the funds until it comes time to
issue 2016 pay 2017 tax bills.
The excess funds will be factored into that levy to make up for the
overpayments this year, which will lower the town’s overall tax rate, Jordan
The DLGF gave a preliminary estimate that there will be $112,000 in excess