Porter County assessor, hospital reach $130 million deal
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 24, 2014 4:35PM
Updated: June 25, 2014 2:02AM
VALPARAISO — After years of assessment appeals and wrangling, after ongoing discussion of what was included in a tax abatement and when it should start, Porter Regional Hospital has finally come to an agreement with the county on its assessed value.
The upshot is that a majority of the Porter County Council voted Tuesday that the hospital is in compliance with the terms of a 10-year tax abatement, as granted by the council in 2009.
The vote came only hours after the hospital and Assessor Jon Snyder announced they had come to an agreement on the hospital’s assessed valuation, a key number in discussion over the abatement.
Without an assessed valuation of $130 million, council members said they could not find the hospital in compliance with the abatement terms; hospital officials had claimed an assessed value of $39 million. Council President Dan Whitten, D-At large, and Vice President Karen Conover, R-3rd District, wrote a letter to that effect in March.
Snyder said that between real and personal property, the hospital will be well above the $130 million committed to in the abatement.
“I’m at peace with this,” he said. “I would ask that this board find the hospital in compliance and put this issue in our rear view mirror.”
Whitten commended Snyder, council attorney Scott McClure and others involved in the negotiations with bringing the hospital’s assessed value up from $39 million to $130 million.
“There’s been a lot of give and take on both sides. It’s not only our job to grant abatements but to take them away when someone is not in compliance,” Conover said, adding knowing what number to plug in for the hospital’s assessed valuation is important for the county’s budget process moving forward.
Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st District, who voted against finding the hospital in compliance, said before the meeting that he could not support the abatement because of the county’s financial woes. He was not on the council when it was granted. “I can’t support it because I can’t justify it.”
Under the terms of the abatement, the hospital’s assessed valuation was $117 on March 1, 2012, when it was 90 percent completed.
The assessed valuation goes up to $130 million for 2013 and 2014, then drops each year through 2021, the last year of the abatement, to $103 million.
With the council’s vote that the hospital is in compliance with the terms of the abatement, the hospital has agreed to drop its appeals for its assessed valuation for 2012 and 2013.
McClure and Christopher Buckley, Snyder’s attorney, confirmed that the Medical Operation Building is not part of the abatement, an issue Biggs raised in March.
Snyder also said the hospital has offered to reimburse the county $40,000 toward the cost of the appraisal of the hospital.
The agreement will provide for $9.7 million in tax revenues for the county, Liberty Township residents, and the Duneland schools over the next 10 years, according to a news release from the hospital.