The Porter County
Council will advertise a public hearing on a fund holding the earnings made
from the Porter County Government Nonprofit Charitable Foundation’s
investment of proceeds from the sale of Porter Memorial Hospital.
At the start of
Thursday’s budget hearing, Council Vice-President Dan Whitten, D-at large,
said there isn’t a fund yet for the investment earnings but one is needed so
the Council can shore up gaps in the general fund, now that the previous
hospital interest funds will be used up.
Whitten said he has
been in conversations with County Auditor Vicki Urbanik and County Attorney
Scott McClure who determined there is still time for the new fund to be
created and adopted along with the rest of the budgets that Council will
need to submit to the state by Nov. 1.
First reading and
public hearing for the other budgets happened on Monday. The hospital
investment earnings fund can get its own hearing within ten days once it is
advertised, said Urbanik, and Monday, Oct. 2, is the hearing’s tentative
Urbanik said the
County will advertise the budget for the fund on the state’s Gateway portal
The Foundation earned $6.3 million in its first year but the budget will be
advertised higher like the others so the County can get the most use of the
fund once the state approves it, she said.
Whitten said the
Commissioners will vote on second reading and adoption of an ordinance to
establish the fund at their next meeting, having approved it on first
reading 3-0 in May.
Along with making
sure there are enough funds for the community organizations paid out of
hospital interest -- Family and Youth Services Bureau, Opportunity
Enterprises and the Council on Aging and Community Services -- the
Foundation earnings budget will be used in 2018 to support the $2.1 million
to pay back the bond on the Commissioners’ capital improvement projects. The
Commissioners are suggesting in their local income tax plan budgets to use
money from the 911 and Jail medical budget for the bond payments and
eventually the Foundation earnings will reimburse those items.
Whitten said the
Foundation fund will also need to pay the Foundation’s investment advisor
and auditor invoices, along with some money for contractual services.
Earlier this year,
the Council heard requests to use the Foundation earnings as grants to
nonprofit groups. The Council has set up committees to work on formalizing
guidelines for a grant process.
hearings on Tuesday and Thursday this week, the Council has pushed all
request for salary increases and new personnel to the end of second readings
so it can see if there is any money remaining.
Whitten, who has
been presiding over the meetings this week in absence of Council President
Mike Jessen, R-4th, said there may be a separate meeting afterwards dealing
exclusively with those requests.
Reynolds is proposing his jail staff be granted raises in 2018, like the
ones given to his merit officers this year, as well as replacing three
positions that have been lost.
“We’re in desperate
need of jailers,” Reynolds told the Council.
Reynolds had put
together a PowerPoint presentation to pitch his request. Whitten said the
Council will look at it after second readings are done.
Prosecutor Brian Gensel is also making changes in his budget related to
salaries by proposing to move a few positions into his general fund budget.
Tourism to support
Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission presented its
proposed 2018 budget keeping the same funding for the four County venues at
the levels the Council increased it to starting in 2016.
The Memorial Opera
House, Expo Center and the Porter County Museum will get $38,120 in
innkeepers’ tax each while the Parks Department will get $35,640,
Previously, the venues would split $89,100, which was the frozen amount for
several years prior to 2016.
The Council voted
in favor of the presented budget which included an increase in capital
outlays from $30,000 to $530,000. PCCRVC Executive Director Lorelei Weimer
and Board President Mitch Peters said that is for the Tourism Bureau to seek
grants and use the money to start the Visitor Center redesign project in
collaboration with the National Lakeshore.