Laborers International Union of North America Local 81

Laborers International Union of North America Local 81 building at 3502 Enterprise Ave. in Valparaiso is shown. 

VALPARAISO — The Laborers International Union of North America Local 81 has again been turned down for property and personal tax exemptions on its new building at 3502 Enterprise Ave. in Valparaiso.

The Indiana Board of Tax Review denied the request for educational and charitable exemptions upon appeal after they were first denied in September 2016 by the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

The state tax board said the union failed to prove that the portion of its building targeted for a tax exemption was used predominantly for qualified educational purposes during the 2014-16 tax years.

"Union activities are not inherently exempt," the state ruled.

The $1.2 million assessed value of the property translates to $34,500 in annual property taxes, said Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder.

Union officials received the news Monday and were contemplating whether to appeal the decision further to the Indiana Tax Court, said bookkeeper Pat Hill.

"We're tax-exempt everywhere else but Porter County," he said.

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The union local had been tax-exempt since 1918, he said. That ended when it completed its new facility in 2014 and made the required request for exemptions.

"Two and two don't add up to four to me," Hill said.

Snyder said, "Applications for exemptions from property taxes are taken seriously and are reviewed by the local Board of Appeals for accuracy and lawfulness. I am happy that the State Board of Review agreed with us in this case, and we will continue to strive for fair and accurate taxation throughout Porter County."

The union had objected in its appeal to Snyder questioning during the initial hearing before the PTABOA, "how the average taxpayer benefits and saves tax dollars from the instruction at Local 81."

While the union claimed the question called for a legal conclusion, the tax review board disagreed.

The Indiana Tax Court ruled in March that the United Steelworkers Local 6787 in Portage is not primarily a charitable or educational entity, and thus its union hall and banquet center are not eligible for a property tax exemption.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.