Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Commissioner Evans urges Porter County Council to create human resources department

Back To Front Page

By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, believes that election year politics has launched “an assault” on county employees and is calling on the County Council to begin the immediate discussion of establishing a human resources department.

At the end of a brief Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Evans read a prepared statement accusing some officials--whom Evans did not identify specifically--of putting employees’ rights in the spotlight “to score political points” for re-election this fall. He said he formed the opinion after reading several recent news articles and editorials.

“It is no secret,” Evans said, that personnel costs comprise the majority of county budgets and that employees are the county’s largest financial liability.

At the same time, he said, personnel are the county’s largest asset. Employees perform many essential services, like answering emergency calls, protecting the environment, inspecting roads and bridges for safety, prosecuting criminals, providing cultural and recreational programs, assessing homes and property and enforcing zoning laws for orderly growth.

“Our employees work hard every day to meet the needs of our citizens and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Evans said. “They should never be treated as political pawns for election year gains.”

The Commissioners have received a “confidential” human resources report and Evans said the board will be deciding what actions it should take. He said the county has the funding means to create some form of a human resources department.

“There has been enough talking and the time has come for action,” Evans said.

The report and its confidentiality were raised by County Council members last Thursday, when they said that they’ve never seen the report. Also County Auditor Robert Wichlinski said he would like to get approval from the Commissioners to eliminate the morning and afternoon 15-minute break periods in his office as part of staff restructuring and extend the hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Evans said that the Commissioners will not consider human resource policies for just a single department. Any changes stemming from the human resources report would be made across-the-board, for all employees.

He also stated that changes to policies and benefits would be made with direct input from the employees. A committee like the one addressing the health insurance changes should be formed to field employee opinions, Evans said.

Centennial coins

Also on Tuesday, the Commissioners got a surprise gift from Portage resident Dave Clark, who came across a collection of coins minted for Porter County’s Centennial celebration in 1936 by the Centennial committee.

“I think these belong to you,” Clark told the Commissioners.

Evans suggested that Clark take the coins to the Porter County Museum of History.

Purchases

The Commissioners also approved the purchase of two copiers and an envelope printer for the County Clerk’s office, from Adams Remco of Crown Point for $13,244.

County Clerk Karen Martin and County ITS Director Sharon Lippens said the appliances will pay for themselves in the next two years because they will significantly reduce expenditures on copier maintenance, from $9,400 to an estimated $1,167 per year.

Evans and Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, complimented Martin and Lippens on the savings.

Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, suggested a letter be sent to all department heads asking whether they might be able to find new equipment which would provide savings on overall maintenance costs.

The Commissioners also renewed an annual contract with Jasper County to house juveniles at the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center for $11,000 plus an additional $110 for each day a juvenile is housed once the initial $11,000 is met.

 

 

Posted 3/5/3014