County takes Porter hospital to court over tax assessment dispute

2013-07-02T14:30:00Z 2013-07-03T10:01:06Z County takes Porter hospital to court over tax assessment disputeBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder has taken legal action in hopes of forcing Porter Regional Hospital to release information he said is needed to complete an assessment for tax purposes.

The office has made numerous attempts by telephone and mail over the past year to obtain the necessary records, which include floor plans and income information, said Christopher Buckley, an attorney representing the assessor's office.

"We've used every level of diplomacy to try to solve this amicably," Buckley said.

A hospital representative declined comment Tuesday on the petition set for a hearing July 18 before Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper. The information in question is sought as part of a private appraisal of the new hospital the county is having done in response to continued tax assessment appeals by the health care provider.

After telephone calls and mail failed to generate the information needed, a subpoena was sent in late March, according to the legal petition. The hospital replied two months later with a partial response amounting to about 10 percent of the request, Buckley said.

The petition argues there is an urgency to the request considering the appraisal in question must be completed by Sept. 1 in order not to interfere with the county's annual budgeting process. The appraiser requires a minimum of 30 days to prepare the report.

"I was elected to assess every parcel in Porter County in a fair and equitable manner," Snyder said in a prepared statement. "It is important that this corporation, similar to all taxpayers, assist with these types of requests. Because of this lack of cooperation, a court action is necessary."

The private appraisal is needed in part because of the difficulty in appraising a facility like a hospital, Snyder has said. The results will leave the county in a better position to respond to another tax assessment appeal by the hospital.

Porter Regional Hospital appealed the first assessment done at its new site last year, Snyder said. The property was assessed at $34.2 million when the site was 90 percent complete, he said. The assessment does not include the multistory medical building at the site, at the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6.

The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals has yet to hear the hospital's challenge.

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