Hebron apartments lose tax exempt status

2013-04-25T14:00:00Z 2013-04-26T06:45:04Z Hebron apartments lose tax exempt statusBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | A Porter County tax appeal board has pulled the tax exempt status of a Hebron apartment complex, arguing the operators failed to show they qualify for the breaks through their charitable efforts.

The unanimous decision by the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals brings an immediate end to the tax exempt status granted to the Misty Glen apartments in 2009 by the Indiana Board of Tax Review.

Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, who initiated the change that led to the appeal to the local tax assessment board, has said he knew of no other apartment complex in the county not paying property taxes.

Thursday's action was welcomed by Hebron Town Council President Don Ensign, who said the town, township and local school district need the additional revenue at this time of shrinking funding.

"It's good for everyone," he said. "Anything is a help."

Sandy Bickel, an Indianapolis attorney representing Hebron-Vision, which owns the five-building, 80-apartment complex at 99 Misty Lane, said Thursday she will recommend her client appeal the revocation to the Indiana Board of Tax Review.

In preparation for a potential appeal, Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals member Nicholas Sommer said the tax exempt status is being pulled because there was no evidence presented during a hearing last month of charitable or educational efforts on behalf of the apartment operators.

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

Sommer said the rental rates are compatible with the Hebron market and not significantly better than competing units, he said.

While the owners argued at the time their exemption was granted that the one- and three-bedroom units rented for $509 and $669, the rents are now $579 and $759 respectively, according to its website.

Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals member Joe Wszolek said the operators evict residents, who are unable to pay their rent.

Sommer the evidence also showed Misty Glen is generating a profit, which is not being kept in Porter County.

Bickel said last month the affordable housing provided at the complex probably will be lost if the tax exemption is removed.

She said it is very unusual for a county to initiate an effort like this to remove tax exemption granted by the state.

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

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