The choice between
paying for Porter County’s employee health plan with hospital interest funds
and unallocated county income tax money was not a divisive one for the
Porter County Council as it voted unanimously 7-0 to tap CEDIT.
At its meeting
Tuesday, the Council approved using $2 million in CEDIT, approved last week
by the County Board of Commissioners, to pay for health claims, which will
keep the insurance fund temporarily in the black.
Nancy Adams, R-Center, told the Council an additional $1.4 million will need
to be found to get through 2014.
Robert Poparad, D-at large, suggested making “a sweep” of the county budgets
that have unspent funds at the end of the year to pick up the rest of the
insurance costs. “We always end with extra cash,” he said.
Unused money within
department budgets for office supplies and part-time help could be
transferred to medical expenses, said County Auditor Robert Wichlinski.
Tabled from last
month so it would not have to be advertised again, the Council voted 7-0 to
reject the Commissioners’ request for $5 million in earned hospital sale
interest to cover the insurance fund shortfall.
Dan Whitten, D-at large, after the meeting said he’d be interested in
leveraging more CEDIT to pay the insurance costs.
told the Council her board is seeking suggestions from health care experts
on ways to save. The Commissioners hired Steve Brady of Heritage Advisory
Group of Chesterton to make an independent review of the health coverage
“We’re going to
have a better idea of how to cut costs,” Adams said.
Biggs, R-1st, said he was “baffled” as to “why we keep holding on to the
self-insurance” in light of the fact that 30 employees on the plan make up
50 percent of the reported claims.
The insurance is no
doubt the “white elephant in the room,” according to Council President Dan
Whitten, D-at large, who said he is waiting to hear what the Commissioners
can bring to the table in terms of savings.
“It has to be
addressed,” said Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at large.
Rivas says “no” to
At the start of the
meeting, the Council split 6-1 in accepting first reading of the advertised
2015 budgets for departments.
Giving the sole
“no” vote, was Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, who told the
Chesterton Tribune he dissented because not all departments have made
the cuts the Council requested.
budget and financial specialist Vicki Urbanik reported to the Council last
month that only ten of the 43 County departments cut the recommended 10
percent of their budgets or came close to it.
“Some took it
seriously when others did not,” Rivas said. “It’s alarming when we don’t
have enough revenue to support the budgets that are submitted.”
The first reading
traditionally includes a chance for the public to comment on the proposed
budgets. No one from the audience spoke.
The council will
continue its task of examining and setting the different budgets, starting
tonight at 5:30 p.m. with 911 communications, the Sheriff’s Department and
the County Prosecutor.
“It’s going to be a
real hoot,” Whitten said. “Let’s come (Thursday) ready for action.”
The Council gave a
proverbial “wag of the finger” to townships and cities in the County who
budgeted above their yearly growth quotients in their 2015 budgets submitted
for a non-binding review.
growth quotient is 2.7 percent this year, while the County’s growth quotient
is 4 percent, according to Urbanik.
Of the 12
townships, only Westchester Twp. submitted a budget below the state growth
quotient in its proposed levy. Four townships exceeded the state and county
growth quotients in their proposed budgets Ð Portage, Porter, Westchester
For cities and
towns, just two did not exceed the state growth quotient in their advertised