VALPARAISO | A Porter Township resident is seeking a 30-day delay for a Monday hearing on a religious tax exemption on his $1.1 million residential property.
The Indianapolis-based law firm of Lewis & Kappes sent a letter Tuesday to the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals stating it had only recently been hired to represent Preachit Inc. in the matter and thus needs the additional time to adequately prepare for the hearing.
The request was not filed at least 20 days ahead of time, as is required by law to have a right to a delay, said PTABOA President Joe Wszolek.
Wszolek said he was waiting on word Thursday afternoon whether the board could still grant the delay if it so desired.
"I don't want anyone to believe that any taxpayer gets treated any differently than any other," he said.
Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder had concerns with the request.
"I would like to discourage last-minute attempts to interrupt and delay hearings," he said. "This is not a good use of taxpayer time or resources."
The property at 234 W. County Road 166 South includes an 8,746-square-foot, two-story house, pond and two barns tucked away on 36 acres.
Former members of the PTBOA granted a religious tax exemption in 2009 for the barns and land at the site, Snyder said. But the registered owner Preachit, an online provider of church sermons, has not been paying taxes on the house either.
The PTBOA scheduled a hearing Monday to question the owner about the exemption, Snyder said. For the house to qualify for the exemption, it would have to be used predominately for religious purposes, he said.
James Smith, who is identified as the registered agent of the Preachit nonprofit corporation, told The Times last month that the sermons are only a small part of what the group does, but he did not want to elaborate.