Where We Stand - The Great Lakes Basin Rail Line

Seeing the proposal for the new rail line through southern Porter County caused me to think deeply about the impact that this proposal would have on local government. With my unique perspective as an assessor-appraiser, I am naturally drawn to the impact that this proposed rail line will have on assessed valuation in Porter County.

That being said, a proposed rail line in southern Porter County will have a negative impact upon the assessed valuation within the county. 

In other words, simply having the rail line run through southern Porter County will decrease the total assessed valuation for the county, thereby increasing the burden upon the remaining taxpayers, such as homeowners and small business owners. There are (4) reasons I believe this to be true.

First, the property of the railroad itself is assessed by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, and NOT the local assessor. While I was advocating for the taxpayers in relation to the new Porter Regional Hospital, the state of Indiana attempted to direct an assessment of the facility at a value much less than its true market value. Downstate lobbyists continue to convince the Legislature to take more control of your local assessor’s duties. The state now assesses steel mills, local utilities and railroads. The assessor has no legitimate way to appeal the state’s assessment of these facilities.

Second, the personal property of railroads, including rail cars, inventory, engines, and the like, are captured by the Indiana Department of Revenue into the Commuter/Electric Rail Service Fund, and this money DOES NOT go to local government to pay for schools, police, fire, and other necessary services. This money goes to pay for rail-related functions only, in a similar way that the money from a tax increment finance district does, in the sense that this revenue does not go to pay the costs of local government; rather, a railroad’s tax dollars only go to pay for self-serving interests of the railroad itself.

Third, the imposition of the rail line in southern Porter County will have an adverse impact on the assessed value of surrounding properties. Prospective purchasers of real estate will obviously pay less for property adjacent to a noisy freight line. When property becomes worthless, its assessed valuation is less, and therefore increases the tax burden on the remaining property owners.

Fourth, a rail line in southern Porter County will thwart development in the southern two (2) quadrants of Porter County. Inhibiting development will devalue the assessed valuation of Porter County.

For these reasons, I am strongly opposed to the imposition of the rail line in southern Porter County. We have to plan responsibly for the future growth and development of our county, and this rail line is an obstacle to both progress and growth.

 

Jon Snyder
Porter County Assessor

You can view and download a PDF version of this letter by clicking here.

COVID-19 Note to Taxpayer

Note to taxpayers,

The Porter County Assessor’s office recently mailed Notices of Assessments (Form 11’s) on April 30, 2020 for the assessment as of January 1, 2020.  We understand that this is a very confusing time as you also recently received tax bills for 2019 pay 2020 all during the COVID-19 pandemic.  What is happening right now in the market will not be realized or known until the assessment of 2021 pay 2022.  The assessment notice you just received for January 1, 2020 is based on sales information from 2019.

We would like to stress that we are here to help answer questions as fast and as efficiently as possible during the pandemic.  Our office is asking you to consider the following options during this time to better assist you:

  1. If you have general questions call 219-465-3460.
  2. Tax bill questions can be directed to the Treasurer at 219-465-3470.
  3. For properties located in Portage Township call 219-759-8221.
    1. For all other properties (not in Portage Township):
      1. You can make a phone appointment to review your assessment by calling 219-465-3370 or send an email to dtokody@porterco.org.
  4. Appeal forms can be mailed/ emailed to you by calling 219-465-3681 or email dmika@porterco.org.  The appeal forms need to be postmarked by June 15th, 2020 to be considered as timely filed for the assessment of January 1, 2020.  We do not accept emailed appeals.
  5. If you would like a file-stamped copy of your appeal, please include a SASE, self-addressed stamped envelope, with your appeal when you mail it to our office.
  6. For all properties in Porter County, you may access your assessment information or file an appeal online at www.portercountyassessor.com.
  7. While the evidence is not required at the time of filing it could help expedite it. Evidence should be relevant to the true tax value of the property as of the assessment date, January 1, 2020.  If you have evidence right now, please include it with your appeal.  If you intend to gather evidence after the appeal is filed you may mail or email it directly to our office :

By Mail:
Porter County Assessor
155 Indiana Ave., Suite 211
Valparaiso, IN  46385

Email:
jstanley@porterco.org
**Please reference the parcel that you appealed**

Type of Evidence:

  • Sale of the subject property/Offers to purchase
  • A 2019 appraisal prepared by a licensed appraiser (Not required)
  • 2019 sales of comparable properties
  • For 1-3 rental units – current lease with rent info
  • Photos
  • Construction Costs

Thank you for your patience during this difficult time as we are all dealing with the effects of this pandemic.  Please know that if you have to leave a message via phone or email, someone from our office will be in touch with you as soon as possible as we are working with limited staff.

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Phone: (219) 465-3460
Fax: (219) 465-7064

Address:
155 Indiana Avenue, Suite 211 
Valparaiso, Indiana 46383

Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.