VALPARAISO | Porter County has once again rejected tax exemptions for United Steelworkers Local 6787, potentially setting the stage for the type of ongoing battle that has already landed the issue in the courts.
The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals voted 2-1 Tuesday morning to reject a request for exemptions on the union hall, and banquet and meeting hall along Ind. 149, just south of U.S. 20 in Portage.
The union again failed to meet the standard of proving that the predominate use of the facilities are for charitable and/or educational purposes, said PTABOA member Candy Crone.
This is the same finding that was returned on requests for earlier years. Those denials were upheld earlier this year by the Indiana Board of Tax Review and the union has since requested a judicial review of the decision.
There was no representative from the union on hand during Tuesday's hearing and a subsequent telephone call to local President Paul Gipson was not returned.
This most recent request would have applied to years 2012 and 2014, while the earlier appeals were for 2008 and 2010.
PTABOA member Scott Williams cast the lone vote against the most recent denial.
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While he did not explain his vote, he had questioned during the meeting why Valparaiso University receives a tax exemption while the same is not granted to the union, which operates an educational program.
PTABOA attorney Christopher Buckley said the union requires membership to take part in its program, to which Williams countered that application is necessary to attend the university.
"Personally, I just think that's a play on words," he said. "It's the process that's similar. There's some requirements for entry."
The state tax review board has also determined the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce is not due tax exempt status on its building at 2642 Eleanor St.
The Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce is defending the tax exemption it has on its building at 162 West Lincolnway by applying for a new exemption.
The Valparaiso Chamber issue was originally on Tuesday's meeting agenda, but was pulled off to be taken up later.
Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder and the PTABOA agreed in January to require a variety of entities holding 22 local properties to show why they should continue receiving tax breaks.