The Porter County
Board of Commissioner and County Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large,
have begun setting the framework for the County’s own private charitable
foundation, which should see bigger returns on investment of the money from
the sale of the county owned Porter Memorial Hospital.
Since any action to
use the $159 million sale principal would require unanimous votes from the
County Council and the Commissioners, the two bodies have jointly discussed
options for investment with the help of Indianapolis law firm Hall Render.
earlier this month supported the Council’s decision to create a foundation
that the County could control.
Whitten said the
Council’s attorney Scott McClure is getting the paperwork together to
establish a foundation. Following that, input will be gathered on
formulating an investment policy.
“It’s going to be a
challenge. Getting ten people to agree unanimously will be a struggle,”
President John Evans, R-North, encouraged the cooperation of his colleagues
on moving the investments along, as ideas have circulated for years now on
how to use the funds.
“We have to
continue to do this. We can’t keep kicking that can on down the road,” said
With the effect of
the state imposed tax caps, the County Council has already been using
interest generated by the sale fund to offset budget expenses formerly paid
out of the General Fund, like E-911 and annual commitments to community
Whitten said that
the decision to proceed with developing a new community foundation does not
mean other options are precluded, like placing part of the hospital sale
proceeds into the existing Porter County Community Foundation or others.
"There are other
options out there. Personally, I think we need to explore all of them,” said
In a letter
addressed to both the Commissioners and Council, Evans implored they watch
what the Indiana General Assembly may do next year to give counties new
opportunities to make long-term investments and called for a joint meeting
to hear attorney Brian Burdick, of Barnes and Thornburg of Indianapolis, on
what options may be available.
The meeting has
been scheduled for this Monday, July 21, at 5:30 p.m., in the Commissioners’
Evans said Burdick
was involved in helping the state craft legislation to create invest options
using the Major Moves money from the sale of the Indiana Toll Road. Evans
sees the County’s situation as similar to that, just on a smaller scale.
Burdick also at one
time managed the state’s $2.5 billion investment portfolio.
“I can’t say enough
good things about him,” Evans said.
In addition to the
investment policy, Whitten said there will need to be a consensus on forming
a board of directors for the new foundation. Both he and Evans agreed those
appointed should not be elected officials themselves. “We need to try to get
as far away from government as we can get,” Whitten said.
appointees should have financial management experience. “We have to have
people who know what they are doing,” he said.
The board should
also have an odd number of members, Whitten said, and it should be
bipartisan, ideas with which the Commissioners concurred.
Shurr Blaney, D-South, said she is happy to see that both bodies are already
in harmony with many aspects regarding the investment.