A joint effort by local leaders in the Statehouse seeks to curb a legal
dispute between the Porter County Board of Commissioners and the Porter
A press release issued Friday afternoon announced that Indiana House Rep. Ed
Soliday, R-Valparaiso, Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, alongside State Sen.
Karen Tallian, D-Portage, and Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, are
together drafting legislation to clarify the meaning of statute IC
6-3.5-7-12.7 enacted in 2011 which states that a “county, city, or town” may
by ordinance transfer funds that have been deposited in the economic
development income tax fund (CEDIT) or rainy day funds to its General Fund.
The statute eased the mobility of taxpayer money from the CEDIT or Rainy Day
Fund to the General Fund which allows for greater flexibility for the
various councils responsible for making appropriations and handling each
municipality’s fiscal affairs, the release said.
A few members of the County Council have interpreted the statute as giving
them the ability to transfer unallocated CEDIT funds from the Commissioners’
budget into the county’s general fund but the state lawmakers disagree
saying that the law positions a system of checks and balances where the
County Commissioners would write up a plan to use CEDIT funds and the County
Council appropriates the money.
“All other counties are interpreting it the same way, but ours isn’t, so
we’re going to fix it,” Tallian told the Chesterton Tribune.
The new statute will clearly state the roles of the executive body -- the
Commissioners -- and the fiscal body -- the Council -- regarding CEDIT.
“By eliminating the vagueness of the code, we hope this new language will
clarify the intent of the original piece of legislation,” Charbonneau said.
Earlier this month, County Attorney Elizabeth Knight gave her preliminary
opinion that the Council cannot take CEDIT funds because the statute does
not say that the fiscal body or the executive body has sole control over the
funds, and it would have if that was the intent.
Soliday said the new bill should be drafted by the end of this week and will
be considered emergency legislation which means the statute will pass into
law as soon as the Governor signs the bill, which will likely be around
April. He said he and his peers wanted the courts and the public to know
they are addressing the matter by clarifying the process so a potential
lawsuit can be avoided. The Commissioners have said that if the Council were
to pass a resolution to gain use of CEDIT funds then they would challenge
that action in court.
“The taxpayers of the County would pay for the attorneys for both sides. Why
should they do that?” said Soliday. Nothing in the law will be changed, he
said, only to make the law’s intent more understandable. “Its internal
controls so neither side can spend money without the consent of the other.”