VALPARAISO | United Steelworkers Local 6787 argued Monday morning the labor union is entitled to tax exempt status for its union hall and a nearby building it referred to as a meeting facility.
Attorney James Gilday said the buildings along Ind. 149 in Portage qualify for the tax break because they are used for charitable and educational efforts serving the union and general public.
While the Porter County assessor's office recognizes the benefits provided by the union local, it disagrees the buildings are entitled to a tax exemption under the law, attorney Christopher Buckley said.
The meeting facility is actually a lucrative banquet center, Buckley said. The exemption law requires the facilities benefit the larger community and not primarily the group's membership, he said.
The arguments, which were expected to last all day Monday without an immediate ruling, took place locally before the Indiana Board of Tax Review.
The tax exemptions for the facilities were pulled in 2009, Buckley said.
Union Local Vice President Peter Trinidad, who was the first witness called Monday, said the 12,000-square-foot union hall was built in 1996 and the 22,000-square-foot meeting facility opened in 2005.
The meeting facility is used by the local for gatherings that require more room that can be provided by the union hall, he said.
Gilday, who came to the hearing armed with 49 exhibits and a list of witnesses, said in addition to serving the needs of its members, the union local contributes donated money, time and space to the larger community.