Robert Wichlinski said he did not see the memo until late Tuesday because he
had been helping show livestock at the fair earlier in the day and promised
he will “take care of it immediately.”
the meeting, told the Chesterton Tribune the memo should have come as
“no surprise” to Council members because they left insurance underfunded
when they approved the 2014 budgets. The Council, not the auditor, is the
body which decides where to appropriate funds for the insurance and it was
just a matter of time before the funds would run dry, he said.
As of Wednesday
morning, the insurance fund had a balance of $50,400. Monthly costs over the
year have fluctuated between $537,000 and $1.3 million.
“They knew this was
coming,” Wichlinski said.
budget and financial specialist Vicki Urbanik advised the Council there is
$1.3 million of appropriated moneys in various budgets that have not been
spent which could be used to pay the claims. But that amount cannot be used
all at once, it will have to be done in portions, she said. What the auditor
should do, Urbanik said, is go to the Council and Commissioners for approval
to pull from those funds to balance the insurance fund.
Democrat, is running against Wichlinski in his bid for re-election this
The Council cannot
force the auditor to pay the claims but it is its best hope that the
payments are made on time, Whitten said.
During last fall’s
budget hearings, the Council approved the health insurance budget at a $2.5
million deficit. Further cuts by the state to the general fund of $2.8
million increased the shortage to more than $5 million for 2014.