The Porter County Council on Tuesday took a stand in opposition to the
proposed Northwest Indiana Regional Transportation District.
In the final portion of Tuesday night’s county council meeting, Council
Member Rita Stevenson, D-2nd, read a resolution urging voters to vote “no”
to the establishment of the new transportation district in the Nov. 3
referendum. The statement called the referendum “nonsensical” and
“We cannot afford another tax,” said Stevenson.
The referendum on the Regional Transportation District, also referred to by
many as a RTA, was included in the state’s budget bill passed by this years’
Indiana Legislature. If established, the RTD would consist of up to seven
boards to implement modes of transportation in the counties of Lake, Porter,
LaPorte and St. Joseph counties. One planned action includes augmenting
regional bus services and another to expand and fund the South Shore line
with possible spurs into Valparaiso and Lowell. The RTD would have the
authority to establish a new county income tax in each member county of up
to .25 percent.
Although some agencies such as the Northwest Indiana Regional Development
Authority support the referendum in hopes it will create economic
development within the region, the county council feels the RTA vote is all
about raising taxes.
“Regionalization costs money… our money,” said Stevenson as she read the
The council passed the resolution with a final vote of 5-2. Those voting
“no” included council members Karen Conover, R-3rd, and Mike Bucko, D-4th.
Bucko said his vote did not reflect support of the RTA but instead a vote to
abstain. He said the council should not have to pass any resolution on a
piece of legislation that was so poorly written in the first place.
The council also voted unanimously on a resolution not to grant funding
requests from the Michigan City School district, which asked the council to
help the school system reimburse the county for the costs of a school
referendum that included Pine Township.
During the reading of transfer and appropriations, the council passed
several items unanimously, including an additional CEDIT fund of $150,000
for the Portage Adult Education program and longevity pay for county
employees with an appropriation of $160,000. County employees will receive
their second longevity payout by the end of the year.
A request for more overtime pay to the auditor’s office prompted further
debate. Porter County Auditor Jim Kopp told the council additional splits
and transfers have come in since work was thought to be completed on Oct.
13. The council passed 4-3 in granting the $30,000 request with council
members Rita Stevenson, Sylvia Graham, D-at large, and Dan Whitten, D-at
large, voting no. Council President Bob Poparad, D-1st, Mike Bucko, Laura
Blaney, D-at large, and Karen Conover voted yes.
The county council will meet next on Nov. 24. There is no council meeting
scheduled for December.