Hospital is making good on its promises to Porter County Government in its
agreement for a ten-year tax abatement.
The Council on
Tuesday voted 6-0 to accept the latest compliance form submitted by the
Hospital, which is required by state statute to be filed with and reviewed
by the Council each year according to County Auditor Vicki Urbanik.
Abstaining from the
vote was Council member Dan Whitten, D-at large, who stepped out of the
meeting while the motion to accept the CF-1 compliance form was being
This is the
Hospital’s fifth year of abatement. The assessed value (AV) for 2016 pay
2017 was $123,500,000 and Urbanik said the AV is expected to be lower next
year. The hospital reported it has retained more than 126 new employees
since it opened in 2012, which was one of the terms of the resolution
approved for the tax abatement.
The Hospital is
also required to pay 10 percent of taxes abated each year back to the County
for economic development, which is capped at $100,000.
“Looking at this
report, it is clear to me they are in compliance,” said Council President
Mike Jessen, R-4th. Council Attorney Harold Harper agreed.
Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, asked Hospital CEO Stephen Lunn if the hospital had any
outstanding appeals on their property taxes. Lunn said those had been
resolved about two years ago and there are no appeals at this time.
In other business,
the Council unanimously approved moving budgetary items for and the salaries
of Animal Control officers into the Animal Shelter budget from the Sheriff’s
budget in response to the County Commissioners’ recent decision to move
oversight of animal control back to the shelter.
A figure of $55,659
in salaries was appropriated in the Shelter’s general fund budget for the
remainder of the year. The County now provides Animal Control throughout
Porter County except within the City of Portage, which retains its own
animal control officers. The City however did sign an agreement with the
County to have the Animal Shelter take their animals, rather than the Hobart
Council member Andy
Bozak, R-1st, said he would like to see reports on which municipalities are
paying their animal control fee. Urbanik told Bozak she can get him that
information but said that all municipalities that have contracts with the
County are paying their fee.
The Council next
commended Animal Shelter Director Toni Bianchi for her leadership in getting
the new 14,000 sq. ft. shelter up and running.
Jessen said he was
“impressed” after seeing on Facebook that the Shelter received 100 beds for
dogs. Bianchi said the Shelter’s Facebook page manager Curt Ellis put the
call out for new beds and the goal was reached within six hours with the
help of the Kuranda Beds for Animal Shelters program, offering the beds at a
“It was fantastic,”
Also Tuesday, the
Council approved 7-0 an amendment to the Porter County Retirement Plan
recommended by the Sheriff’s Pension Committee that would allow retired
Sheriff’s Police Plan to name a beneficiary if they are unmarried.
Right now, only
spouses can receive benefits from a pension plan if the officer receiving it
dies, Sheriff Dave Reynolds said. It goes to no one if the officer is
unmarried and the amendment is to make the plan fairer to unmarried
officers, he said.
Whitten said he is
in favor of the amendment but raised questions about how the plan works. He
and others agreed to invited Chris Dilts, administrator for the Sheriff’s
Pension, to the Council’s meeting in July.
The Council, at the
start of the meeting, named Porter County Museum Director Kevin Pazour to a
seat on the board of trustees for the Porter County Library System with a
vote of 7-0.
Karen Conover, R-3rd, made the motion to appoint Pazour rather than
reappointing Deb Porter. Whitten said Porter has “done a fine job” but she
believes that Pazour has the vision to move the Library System forward as he
has done with the county museum.