Porter County Clerk
Jessica Bailey reports she’s discovered over $72,000 in outstanding expenses
from the 2018 election since she took office in January.
The Porter County
Council approved Bailey’s request to make $20,000 in transfers to cover some
of those expenses at its meeting last week.
Bailey was approved
to transfer $5,000 from her office supply funds to legal notices and to
transfer $15,000 from her food and groceries line item to cover the
outstanding expenses for legal notices and contractual services in the 2018
election and to have a balance remaining in those funds for 2019 primary
Vice-president Jeremy Rivas asked if any funds were encumbered from the 2018
budget to pay for election expenses that cropped up in 2019. Bailey said
nothing was encumbered, but many of the invoices came in 2018 and were just
never paid, presumably because former Clerk Karen Martin didn’t sign-off on
the invoices so they could be sent to the Auditor’s office.
The Council asked
County Auditor Vicki Urbanik why nothing was encumbered. Urbanik said
requesting encumbrances is on department heads. “We have no idea what
outstanding bills any individual departments have.”
The 2018 general
election in Porter County was rife with problems, including 13 polling
places not opening on time, poll worker complaints, and results delayed
until Nov. 9. A report from Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson named
Martin, who was on the ballot challenging Urbanik for Auditor while she
administered the election, as one of three key figures in the failures.
Council member Ray
Poparad, D-1st, questioned why Bailey didn’t bring the issue to the
Council’s attention sooner than April. Bailey said she was prepared to
discuss it in March, when the Council cancelled its regular meeting.
Dan Whitten, D-At-large, asked if all the outstanding expenses are known.
Bailey said she
believes she’s found all of them, but she’ll most likely need more fund
transfers and an additional appropriation to make up for the 2018 expenses
she has paid from her 2019 budget. She plans to request the additional
appropriation later in the year, once she’s done all the fund transfers.
“Let’s cut to the
chase, we know the prior administration in the Clerk’s office was less than
organized. Moving forward, it sounds like you’ve got things in place,”
“We know you are
going to be timely. She’s fixing the problem,” Whitten said.
In other elections
business, the Council gave the final nod of approval for poll worker raises
approved by the Board of Commissioners earlier this year.
there have been no problems with the new voting equipment--including the
electronic poll books that had some council members nervous when they
approved the purchase. She reported that Duneland and Portage have had the
heaviest early voting turnout.