to get heated at Tuesday’s Porter County Commissioner meeting as President
John Evans, R-North, tried to get his colleagues’ backing on accepting the
contract with Motorola for the 800 megahertz emergency services upgrade at
an estimated cost of $9.8 million.
in August heard a presentation from the representatives of Motorola and the
State’s Integrated Public Safety Commission about the 800 MHz system that
many counties are converting to. One major incentive is that participating
counties will not need to worry the cost for upgrades for the next 20 years
as the state has signed a $78 million contract with Motorola to cover those.
The 800 MHz system
would replace the County’s current VHF frequency system which it’s been
running on for about 30 years. Evans said that if the County signs on this
year, there will be a savings of $1 million.
“Right now it’s a
$9 million proposition. If we wait until next year, it’s a $10 million
proposition. (Motorola) agreed to give us a discount if we do something,”
Evans said the 911
Advisory Committee has been in discussions about the upgrades and is asking
where the Commissioners stand at this point. The other side of the coin is
that the emergency responders who will be using the new radios and the
municipalities, police, ambulance and fire districts should help pitch in
for the purchase, he said.
“(The County) can’t
take on all the expense of the equipment. We have to do that for our County
employees but I think the municipalities, and even the township fire
districts, I think they need to step up. We would be willing to help but
they have to come forward with some of the money and I would like to propose
that we accept Motorola’s plan contingent on the County Council finding the
funding necessary to support the infrastructure part of it and hopefully
negotiating with the municipalities and the Motorola people to find out how
the equipment is going to be paid for,” said Evans, adding he’s had
discussions with Council members Bob Poparad, D-at large, Karen Conover,
R-3rd, Mike Jessen, R-4th and President Dan Whitten, D-at large.
“All of them have
agreed that this needs to be done and the sooner the better if we are going
to save any money at all,” said Evans. He asked Commissioners Laura Shurr
Blaney, D-South, and Jeff Good, R-Center, to give their support so they can
see the savings in time.
Good and Blaney
both said they were not prepared to discuss the matter as it was not on the
meeting agenda. Good squabbled with Evans of who is willing to pay for what.
“Are you willing to
say let’s spend another $1 million if we wait to January?” Evans asked Good.
“There’s always a
hook, isn’t there?” Good said in response.
“They made the
proposal to read that way. I didn’t create the proposal,” said Evans.
Good after the
meeting said that he felt the County needs to do its due diligence on the
plan, given the high cost. “There are a lot of issues involved in this,” he
Good said he would
prefer it if the discussion would include any new officials on the Council
and Commissioners should they be elected for next year and saw this as a
push by Evans to get this done before the election.
Blaney said she
would like to see the situation vetted properly before any decisions are
The County recently
agreed on $2.5 million to build an animal shelter and the 800 MHz system is
more complicated than that, Good said. One possible source of funding could
be what’s left over of the $10 million in hospital sale proceeds not
invested in the Foundation, but using that money would require unanimous
votes from the Council and Commissioners and Good said he is not ready to
give a favorable vote.
Whitten later on
Tuesday said what he wants to see happen is the Commissioners figure out all
that’s in the contract first and then make their case to the Council for
morning told the Chesterton Tribune that going after the savings
“made sense” to her and said she agreed when Evans reached out to her that
this should be pursued. She said she would favor using the money available
from the hospital sale but she understands if other officials feel they need
Another part of the
discussion included the Porter County Sheriff’s Police request for the
County to purchase body and car cameras.
“In the standpoint
of public safety and for our officers, to be transparent but primarily for
officer safety, body cameras and car cameras are something we really should
consider,” Sheriff David Reynolds said. “The funding mechanism is always the
Evans said that not
only would the cameras be for the officers but for the safety for the
general public as well.
did agree, on a 3-0 vote, to put out a request for proposals on medical
staff at the jail. The County approved a contract three years ago with
Correct Care Solutions to provide 24-hour care to inmates for $1.3 million
Reynolds and PCSP
business manager Edie Hahn said there is no change in the services they seek
but they hope that an RFP will bring in competitive bids to reduce costs.
In other business:
Commissioners viewed a slide show of pictures showing the ongoing progress
of the new County Animal Shelter made by Gerry Yagelski, the Commissioners’
hired project manager. Blaney said construction is moving quickly with the
curbs and sidewalks in. The water line is in and the sewer line will be put
in soon. The masonry work is 85 percent complete.
-- The Voters
Registration Office request to rent a ballot printer from Election Software
and Systems was approved to help keep lines moving quickly on early voting
and Election Day. The printer can produce a ballot for any voting precinct.
Republican Director Sundae Schoon said this will reduce the wait for early
voters who at times have stood in line for more than an hour.
Commissioners approved a contract with North Woods for snow removal at the
North County Government Complex in Portage for the lowest bid at $12,000.
That’s a savings from what the County has paid three years previously, said
Facilities Director Matt Stechley.
-- The Memorial
Opera House will collaborate with CivicPlus for $8,000 in creating a new
platform for its website. County Web Manager Curt Ellis said the site will
be similar to the upgrades made last month to the Expo Center website, being
more user friendly. The work will be paid for out of the Opera House’s