Hospital to appeal tax ruling; abatement hangs in balance
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent April 20, 2014 8:06PM
Porter Regional Hospital | Sun-Times Media files
Updated: May 22, 2014 6:13AM
VALPARAISO — Porter Regional Hospital is appealing its assessment to the Indiana Board of Tax Review, this time for 2013.
The move comes as the Porter County Council is scheduled to discuss a 10-year tax abatement given to the hospital at a meeting Tuesday. The hospital opened in August 2012 at Indiana 49 and U.S. 6.
Council President Dan Whitten, D-at-large, and Vice President Karen Conover, R-3rd, sent a letter to hospital officials last month stating that a low assessment could violate the terms of that abatement. The timeline for when the abatement should start also is up for debate.
Under the terms of the tax abatement, which the council granted in 2009, the hospital had to build a structure of $130 million or more.
Assessor Jon Snyder has said the value of the hospital in 2013, the first full year it was open, was $244.5 million, but hospital officials appealed that value with the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, claiming the hospital was worth $39.3 million.
The hospital lost the appeal, and has now filed a petition with the state for another round.
The hospital can’t have a low assessment and still receive the tax abatement, Whitten said.
“It’s a mess,” he said. “It’s fixable, but taxpayers can’t get double-dipped.”
The hospital’s appeal to the Indiana Board of Tax Review notes that the PTABOA erred in discharging the assessor’s obligation for a burden of proof; the assessor did not meet the burden of proof; the assessment is not uniform with similar properties; the assessment was done outside of state guidelines; and the assessment is not based on definitions of “true tax value” as defined by state guidelines.
“We are working with the county for a fair appraisal,” a hospital spokeswoman said Friday.
The hospital also has appealed its 2012 assessment; after a PTABOA ruling raised that amount from $34 million to $117 million, the hospital appealed to the state.