Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Error discovered in Town of Burns Harbor assessed values

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

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 never certified.

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 their bills.

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 said.

The DLGF gave a preliminary estimate that there will be $112,000 in excess funds.

 

Posted 5/15/2015

 
 
 
 

 

 

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