Porter County Council member Dan Whitten, D-At Large, is on a fact-finding
mission to determine when Porter Regional Hospital actually began its
10-year tax abatement granted by the County.
Whitten brought up the issue of the hospital after the Council approved
continuing a tax abatement with the Family Express facility in Morgan Twp.
at the start of Tuesday evening’s County Council meeting. The hospital
abatement is of interest to him, he said, because of the talk by the
Redevelopment Commission and other officials of possibly putting a tax
increment finance (TIF) district on the hospital property that could capture
part of the hospital assessment as the abatement declines.
“There are some things that I would like to find out,” he said.
Whitten said he assumed that the tax abatement was to start immediately
after the Council voted unanimously to approve the tax breaks, which took
place at a special meeting on Sept. 10, 2009. The other opinion Whitten’s
heard is that the abatement was to begin after the hospital completed its
construction in 2012.
If the latter is true, then the hospital stands to pay less taxes because
the assessment would be larger, Whitten said.
“They’re saying one thing and we’re saying the other,” he said.
Council attorney Scott McClure told Whitten he would look into getting
Whitten’s question answered and see where the assessments have been in time
for the Council’s next meeting in July.
McClure said he believes the abatements were to start as soon as the
hospital property started paying taxes for property assessments.
Although it is not mentioned in the minutes from that September 10, 2009
meeting, the Chesterton Tribune article that followed says that the
attorney for the hospital, James Crawford, had told the Tribune that
the abatement would kick in once the hospital completed its construction and
its assessment was determined, which he told the Tribune would be
likely for tax bills payable in 2012 or 2013.
According to the minutes, Crawford said that with the tax abatement, the
assessed value would be gradually phased in until year eleven when the
hospital would be paying 100 percent of taxes on real and personal property.
Crawford projected that $12.4 million would be abated over the ten-year
The County Assessor’s Office has been working to determine a proper
assessment of the hospital and hired a private firm in November to do an
The Council’s budget specialist Vickie Urbanik told the members Tuesday that
County Assessor Jon Snyder informed her that his office is still waiting on
the final appraisal report.
Snyder told the Tribune this morning the appraisal will for this
year’s assessment which will be determined in the fall. He said the hospital
did appeal its March 2012 assessment when construction was 90 percent
complete and it “could be years yet” before it is resolved since the state
Snyder said he had a copy of a four-page declaratory resolution on the
abatement dated Aug. 24, 2009, where it mentions the County can charge the
hospital an annual fee related to the property taxes or $100,000, whichever
is the lesser amount, during the abatement period but nowhere could he find
information on when the abatement was supposed to kick in.
“I guess that would have to be up to legal interpretation,” he said.