Hospital tax appeal could backfire

2013-11-26T14:10:00Z 2013-11-27T07:53:05Z Hospital tax appeal could backfireBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
November 26, 2013 2:10 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | An attempt by Porter Regional Hospital to reduce the first assessed value of its new building at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 may wind up costing them more.

After the hospital failed Tuesday in a last-minute attempt to withdraw the appeal, Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder argued the 2012 assessment in question should be increased from $34 million to at least $117 million.

His request and a second appeal of the former hospital building in Valparaiso were taken under consideration by the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

Snyder said the state model, which calls for assessing hospitals as general office space, failed taxpayers by under valuing the new property in Liberty Township when it was 90 percent complete and yet unopened.

He presented members of the PTABOA with various news articles, including a couple quoting Porter Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Nalli that place the value of the new site at $210 million and $225 million.

Nalli also signed off on a value of $130 million for the new site, according to documents submitted that relate to the 10-year tax abatement granted to the new hospital by the Porter County Council.

The proposed increase was immediately opposed by Donald Feicht Jr., vice president of taxes at Uzelac & Associates, who accused Snyder of singling out the hospital and improperly varying from state assessing guidelines using nothing more than hearsay.

"Cost and value are not the same thing," Feicht said.

Snyder defended his approach as accurate and said he spent more time with the hospital appeal than others.

The new hospital was assessed at $244.5 million for 2013, the first value placed on the site since it opened in August 2012. The hospital has appealed that assessment as well and will argue during an upcoming hearing the value should be $39.3 million.

Also Tuesday, the hospital appealed the $22.3 million assessment in 2012 of the former hospital building at 814 LaPorte Ave. in Valparaiso, which since has been torn down.

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