Hebron apartment owner seeks to renew tax exempt status

2013-03-06T16:40:00Z 2013-03-07T08:03:52Z Hebron apartment owner seeks to renew tax exempt statusBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Hebron Town Council President Don Ensign said he and other town officials are hoping the county pulls the tax exempt status of the local Misty Glen apartment complex when the issue is taken up next week.

The additional revenue is needed by the town and schools, which are faced with the challenge of providing services to the apartments and its residents in a time of shrinking tax dollars, he said.

"We don't feel that that's fair," Ensign said. "We're all paying taxes as property owners. As far as I'm concerned, this is a business."

Sandy Bickel, an Indianapolis attorney representing apartment owner Hebron-Vision, said the affordable housing provided at the complex probably will be lost if the tax exemption is removed.

The tax credits that had been used to subsidize the complex are gone, she said.

Bickel said it is very unusual for a county to initiate an effort like this to remove tax exemption granted by the state. She plans to appeal to the state if a change is made.

Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder is among those who disagree with the tax exempt status, which was granted to the apartment complex in 2009 by the Indiana Board of Tax Review over the objections of the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

Snyder, who is conducting his own review of local tax exempt properties, said he knew of no other apartment complex in the county not paying property taxes.

The renewal request will be taken up at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday by the county tax board of appeals.

The state tax review board granted 100 percent tax exempt status to Misty Glen in December 2009 based on its charitable efforts, after the county tax appeal board approved an exemption of just 10 percent the year before, according to the state's final determination on the issue.

Officials with Hebron-Vision, which owns the five-building, 80-apartment complex, argued in September 2009 it is a nonprofit and rents all units to qualified low-income tenants. While the group argued at the time its one- and three-bedroom units rented for $509 and $669, the rents are now $579 and $759 respectively, according to its website.

Hebron-Vision, which purchased the complex in September 2007, also said it offers services to tenants such as newsletters, referral programs, holiday parties, access to office equipment and free blood pressure screenings.

While the apartments are located within a tax increment finance district, which captures new revenue for use within the district alone, Ensign said if taxes are restored, a portion of the revenue will be passed along to the town, schools and other taxing units.

"Nobody wants to claim any more than they should be claiming," he said.

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