Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Biggs reverses vote on Brincka Cross grant

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, voted no the first time on creating a fund to receive grant money from the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program to purchase 15 additional acres at Brincka-Cross Gardens Park, but switched h* is vote to yes at the fund’s second reading on Tuesday.

Biggs at the Jan. 31 Commissioner’s meeting voiced his concern about the County’s financial ability to maintain and insure its properties as they grow.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said then that his maintenance budget would stay the same with the 15 additional acres. He told Biggs that his department is one of the most underfunded in the state per capita and he and the Park Board would “relish” having more funding.

The grant is for a $58,125 match to acquire the land. One of the features planned would be expansion of the parking area for Brincka-Cross Gardens, located on Furness Rd. in Pine Twp.

Biggs after Tuesday’s meeting told the Chesterton Tribune that he supported second reading for the ordinance creating the fund because he knew it was going to pass with votes from Commissioners Jeff Good, R-Center, and Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, and “voting no would serve no purpose.” He said he voted against it on first reading “to send the right message to the parks” that there is a limit to what County Government can afford.

“They need to understand where the tipping point is at,” Biggs told the Tribune.

Since his vote on first reading, Biggs said he has talked to park board members and supporters who have told him he “has a point.”

Biggs suggested that if the Parks Department wishes to have increased funding, it needs to have a discussion with the County Council which serves as the County’s fiscal body.

“If they truly believe there is an issue, they need to address it with the County Council,” he said.

Biggs said he agrees that having parks is a benefit for the environment and quality of life for citizens, but wonders where funding is going to come from to develop park land like Brookdale in Liberty Twp. and Aukiki Park in Pleasant Twp.

Waste savings

In other business, the Commissioners entered into an agreement with Revelation Waste Partners of Valparaiso to find ways to reduce the costs of handling refuse.

Office Manager for Revelation Waste Partners Jason Roe said that his company will evaluate how the County is billed for waste services and suggest ways to streamline and cut down on costs. One plan is to take the food waste from the Jail and Juvenile Detention Center and sell it to local farmers instead of having it end up in a landfill.

Good said this will help the Commissioners get contracts on file. Biggs said there have been some agreements on automatic renewal that go back to the late 1990s.

County employees will be informed about the changes and Revelation Waste Partners will be the one company to call to take care of refuse.

“We are effectively getting out of the trash business. We will be saving some money by doing this the right way,” Good said.

The agreement is to pay Revelation Waste Partners based on the amount of savings it provides to the County with no upfront cost. Biggs said he hopes this will reduce trash costs by about 20 percent.

New tax system

Meanwhile, the Commissioners voted in favor of upgrading the County Treasurer’s taxes website to a program that will be compatible with most computers.

County Treasurer Michelle Clancy said the current tax site is becoming antiquated “very quickly” and most users have problems accessing it.

The new program is with LOW Associates, which the County has hired for many projects related to taxes. Clancy said anyone can use the site, including mortgage and title companies.

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik said she is in complete support as complaints about the current system have been made to her office.

Facilities

In other matters, the Commissioners approved the sixth payout to Larson Danielson Construction for the new County Animal Shelter in the amount of $455,202. Stephen Kromkowski of DLZ Indiana said this completes about 80 percent of construction.

The County also has $40,000 in credit in an allowance that hasn’t been touched yet, he added.

“Getting credit and still ahead of schedule. That’s a pretty good deal,” Biggs said.

Also, the Commissioners approved a service agreement with Gertzen Water Management Company of Valparaiso for the new sewer screen system at the jail for $4,800 per year.

 

 

Posted 2/22/2017

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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