Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Assessor values Porter Regional Hospital at $244.5 million

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, after a year and a half effort, reported Wednesday that Porter Regional Hospital in Liberty Twp. has been assessed at $244,500,000.

But it may be a year or two before taxpayers and taxing units can reap any benefits from having the hospital on the tax rolls because of a 10-year abatement granted by the Porter County Council.

Nevertheless, County Auditor Bob Wichlinski said it is a matter worth celebrating because now the County and the taxing units have a concrete value that they can more accurately base their budgets on.

It is also a relief for Porter Hospital associates, Wichlinski said, for now they can stop worrying about what their assessed value is supposed to be and focus on the needs of their patients.

“This is a good day. It’s a great day for the taxpayers, it’s a great day for county government and it’s a great day for the hospital,” Wichlinski told the Chesterton Tribune.

According to a press release from the assessor, a Form 11 notice of assessment was sent to the hospital via certified mail on Monday.

In November of 2012, about three months after the hospital opened its doors, Snyder had hired Jack Poteet of Hospital Appraisal Services of Overland Park, Kan. for $25,000 to appraise the hospital because the assessment models his office has from the state were not adequate to value the specialized facility.

Poteet conducted his appraisal using three different methods -- cost approach, income approach and sales-comparison approach -- which is how he arrived at the $244.5 million valuation. Analyses of the three approaches made independently by Poteet varied by just .2 percent, indicating a consistent value, Snyder’s release said.

Snyder said he is “comfortable with the final result of the appraisal” and the quality of Poteet’s work.

The complete appraisal is 350 pages in length, and pursuant to a court order issued by the Porter County Circuit Court is to “remain strictly confidential,” according to the release.

The appraised value is the market value of the hospital so the $244.5 million is considered to be the gross assessed value of the hospital, Snyder told the Tribune. The 104 acres of land is valued at $1.7 million while the physical building is valued at $242.8 million.

The personal property assessment amounted to $18.4 million, making the total gross assessment more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

The assessor’s office had previously assessed the hospital in March 2012 at $34.1 million when construction was 90 percent complete, Snyder said.

Snyder said the new assessment is close to the number he was anticipating after hearing the hospital’s building construction costs were $210 million.

Abatement

Wichlinski said it will be his job to determine what the net assessed value of the hospital will be, taking into consideration any abatements or reductions.

The County Council voted 7-0 in 2009 to grant an abatement for the hospital’s real property that would be phased out gradually over ten years.

Once activated, the abatement on its first year activated will be 100 percent, 2nd - 95 percent, 3rd - 80 percent, 4th - 65 percent, 5th - 50 percent, 6th - 40 percent, 7th - 30 percent, 8th - 20 percent, 9th - 10 percent, and 10th - 5 percent.

The full amount would come into play in the 11th year.

Wichlinski said it has not been made clear when the abatement is to start and it is a decision that will have to be agreed upon eventually by the County Council and hospital officials.

Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, on Wednesday said he is eager for the conversations to begin so the County and the taxpayers can “receive the benefits much more quickly.”

At a County Council meeting this June, Council member Dan Whitten, D-At Large, said he was under the impression that the abatement started once it was approved but Council Attorney Scott McClure said then that it is his belief that the abatement starts once the hospital receives an assessment.

After the abatement is determined, the hospital will annually review the status with the County Council just as every other entity with a granted abatement.

Impacts

Wichlinski said the hospital “undoubtedly” will have an impact on Duneland. The hospital at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 is located in the unincorporated taxing district of Liberty Twp. The taxing district is also within the Duneland School Corporation’s net AV and also the County’s.

How big the impact will be depends on the abatement, Wichlinski said, and later he will be able to determine if he would need to recertify the net AV for the 2013 pay 2014 assessments.

If by chance there is any additional revenue available to those taxing units, boards like the County Council or the Duneland School Board can appropriate them as an additional amount to their budgets, Wichlinski said.

The important thing now, Wichlinski said, is that with the new assessment the process of budgeting for these taxing units can be done in an open manner.

“Transparency, accuracy and certainty is key here,” he said. “Now that we have an accurate number, this sets the stage for ten years of progress.”

Appeals

Porter Regional Hospital has the right to appeal its assessment just as every taxpayer does to the Porter Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, Snyder reminds.

Now that the hospital has received its assessment, it has a 45-day window in which to file an appeal, Snyder said.

The hospital has regularly appealed its assessments, including the one from 2012.

Snyder said it is his goal to ensure that all taxpayers including the hospital are paying their fair burden of taxes and the appeal process is a part of that.

 

Posted 10/11/2013