Porter hospital agrees to provide county with taxing documents

2013-07-26T10:50:00Z 2013-07-27T22:00:09Z Porter hospital agrees to provide county with taxing documentsBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter Regional Hospital agreed Friday to turn over documents said to be needed to complete an assessment of the site for tax purposes. The agreement brought a surprise end to a lawsuit filed by the Porter County assessor.

The hospital also agreed to pay up to $20,000 of the county's costs for taking the legal action, though it was unclear if the final price tag will exceed that amount.

"This is a win for the taxpayers," Assessor Jon Snyder said immediately following a short court appearance that was supposed to be a continuation of last week's 2 1/2-hour hearing on the matter.

The information to be released will be enough to allow the assessment work to continue at the site at the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6, Snyder said.

The agreement includes much of what the county has been seeking from the hospital since August 2012, with the exception of future projections of income and earnings, said Christopher Buckley, an attorney representing the assessor's office.

Sharon Stanzione, an attorney representing the hospital, said Porter is just as pleased as the county by the settlement.

The subpoena from the county was withdrawn and a compromise was reached on the documents sought, she said.

The documents, which must be turned over within 30 days, include the "as-built" plans for the new hospital and medical office building, verification of the date ground was broke and construction was complete, construction costs and verification no further construction is in the works. Also included is documents revealing any problems at the site, the land lease and lease for space the hospital rents in the medical office building, records of any hospital buildings acquired or sold by Porter, revenue and earnings information for 2011 and 2012, and number of parking spaces and beds.

The information is sought as part of a private appraisal of the new hospital site the county is having done in response to continued tax assessment appeals by the health care provider.

After telephone calls and mail failed to generate the information needed, a subpoena was sent in late March, according to the legal petition. The hospital replied two months later with a partial response amounting to about 10 percent of the request, Buckley has said.

The assessor's petition argued there is an urgency to the request considering the appraisal in question must be completed by Sept. 1 in order not to interfere with the county's annual budgeting process. The appraiser requires a minimum of 30 days to prepare the report.

Porter Regional Hospital appealed the first assessment done at its new site last year, Snyder said. The property was assessed at $34.2 million when the site was 90 percent complete, he said. The assessment does not include the multistory medical building at the site.

The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals has yet to hear the hospital's challenge.

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