Chesterton Tribune



Porter County raises election workers pay

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners approved permanent increases to poll worker pay yesterday.

Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey, in an effort to lure more workers to the polls and keep pace with other counties, is raising the pay for poll clerks and judges from $110 to $150 per day.

Judges of the party opposite the Clerk will receive a extra $15 for a total of $165 per day for Republican judges. Inspectors are being raised from $135 to $190 a day. The figure is the sum of $175 for serving as inspector and $15 for returning suitcases at the end of the night.

Some significant changes are that inspectors asked to handle multiple precincts will be paid $50 for each additional precinct, and workers will be paid $50 to attend a required three-hour training session.

The meal allowance for workers was also upped from $15 to $20.

Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, said the raises are not only significant, but long overdue. Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, noted he is the Board member who’s been in County government the longest, and he can’t recall the last raise.

“I think in some way it has contributed to how we struggle in every election to find poll workers,” Biggs said.

Bailey needs 306 poll workers for the upcoming primary May 7. Those interested in working the polls should contact their respective party chairman. They can also find poll worker information on the County website or call the Clerk’s office at (219)465-3450.

Bailey said she’s already had a lot of interest from people who want to be part of change after the 2018 general election was rife with problems that included 13 polling places opening late for a lack of poll workers, thousands of absentee ballots not being delivered on time or counted, and final results delayed for three days. Poll workers who worked last November were paid double for the extra-long day’s stressful events.

Biggs said the public should know things are still on track after recent news coverage. The Secretary of State recently released suggestions for Porter County elections going forward and a shouting match at a recent Election Board meeting prompted the Board president to resign.

“Despite what’s been in the paper the last week, I think there’s been a lot of positive things happening with the election. We’ll see the fruits of that the day after,” Biggs said. “We’re on the right track. Don’t let one week form your opinion.”

Capital Improvements

The Commissioners opened sealed bids for bid package no. 2 at the North County Annex. Skillman Corp., the County’s construction manager on the $30 million Capital Improvements plan, will review the bids, and contracts will be awarded at a special meeting at 10 a.m. on Friday.

The Commissioners approved a $165,936 change order for work at the North County Complex with a balance to finish of approximately $3.2 million. The change order is to remove unsuitable soils and import sand for the building pad for the outbuilding planned for the site.

County Attorney Scott McClure noted that the unforeseen cost will be shared with the Portage Township Trustee, who will have a new office and space for the Portage Food Bank in the outbuilding and is sharing the cost of construction 50/50.

Biggs commented that the County saved money by building on land it already had, but one of the drawbacks is that land has “some bad pockets.” Biggs also emphasized that renovations always have hiccups, and the Commissioners factored that in when they bonded the projects.

In other capital improvements business, the downtown Valparaiso Courthouse will undergo window replacement starting now and lasting until the end of May or June.

Other Business

The Commissioners approved Porter County Tourism’s cooperative agreement to share a portion of the Innkeeper’s Tax levy with the Expo Center, Memorial Opera House, Museum Foundation, and Parks Department. All entities get $38,120, except the Parks Department, which gets $35,640.

The County will be getting a website upgrade as its hosting company CivicPlus will no longer support the site’s current platform after this year. Assistant to the Commissioners Curt Ellis said the upgrade and a redesign is free, per the contract. Ellis said the new platform will be mobile device-friendly and easier to navigate.

County Election Board Thursday

The Porter County Election Board will meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 in suite 205 of the Porter County Administration Building, 155 Indiana Avenue, Valparaiso.

The Board is slated to discuss the resignation of long-time member J.J. Stankiewicz, and his subsequent replacement, and the Secretary of State’s findings on the causes of the troubled 2018 general election with suggested changes going forward.

The Board will also hear a report from the Clerk on poll worker information, ballots, the public test of voting equipment, early voting, and other updates, as well as discuss campaign finance reports and upcoming deadlines.

The public is welcome to attend with its comments and questions.


Posted 3/20/2019




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