The Porter County
Board of Commissioners agreed to keep moving forward on investing the sale
principal of Porter Memorial Hospital by favoring the County Council’s
decision to set up a community endowment foundation.
On a motion by
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, the Commissioners voted unanimously
Tuesday to support the Council’s decision.
Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, believes it prudent to continue
exploring what opportunities may be available to the County. He said there
is good chance state lawmakers will pass new legislation next year allowing
counties to invest long term with a high rate of return.
Commissioner meeting, Evans wrote to the Council saying that a report
earlier this year by Hall-Render of Indianapolis adequately outlined a
number of options the County has for potential investment strategies.
However, “it did
not address the potential of legislation that would expand a local
governmental body’s investment authority to include longer term investments,
and/or a wider array of investment vehicles,” Evans said.
that County officials be put in contact with attorney Brian Burdick of
Barnes and Thornburg LLP, the same attorney responsible for drafting the
state’s Major Moves legislation years ago when Indiana sold the Toll Road.
The legislation opened the door for the state’s long-term investment options
and the chance to provide “a significantly higher return,” Evans said.
Burdick, who serves
as general counsel to the Indiana County Treasurer’s Association and the
Indiana Bond Bank, has extensive experience representing both public and
private clients, counseling them on public contracting and bidding. He has
also managed the state’s $2.5 billion portfolio, Evans said.
Evans called on the
Council and Commissioners to hear Burdick on the topic of legislation that
could provide Porter County with investment options similar to Major Moves
and he suggested a joint meeting later in the month.
“I just want people
not to think that we are forgetting about this issue and we want to make
sure it continues to move forward.,” Evans said.
The letter also
makes clear that Evans does not intend to supersede the Council’s action to
create a foundation. Evans said that he wrote the letter to promote
cooperation between the Council and the Commissioners.
“The Council should
continue its work to establish said foundation. Instead, it is simply to
assure that we have done thorough due diligence in examining all options
available to us,” he said.
Part of the $159
million in hospital sale proceeds could go to the foundation while some
could be invested elsewhere, Evans said. From his discussions with Burdick,
Evans said he is confident there will be legislation introduced next year to
expand investment options.
“I trust people to
not think that we are forgetting about this issue and that we want to make
sure that it continues to move forward,” he said.
The Council and
Commissioners met with Hall-Render in March, evaluating which strategy could
provide the higher interest to replenish lost funds in the County’s coffers.
The Council in May
voted 7-0 to create a new charitable community foundation so the County can
have access to the investment if it so desires. It has received a total of
five responses from community foundations and financial investment firms
that could assist in creating a strategy for the new foundation.
At that meeting,
Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, commented that creating a
foundation should not preclude the county from exploring other avenues. “We
need to have all our options on the table,” he said.
According to a
mutual agreement within the County’s ordinances, unanimous approval from
both the Commissioners and County Council is required to invest or access
the sale principal.
member Sylvia Graham, D-at large, who was present at the meeting Tuesday
said she is in favor of Evans’ statement but feels it’s urgent that the two
bodies do not stall action in getting investments underway.