The decision of
whether Porter County will help fund a three-state effort for a high speed
passenger train line from Chicago to Ohio will be up the County Council.
The request to
partner with other local governments by the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail
Association was supported by all three County Commissioners at their meeting
Tuesday, but Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said the $20,000
would have to be taken out of unallocated CEDIT funds appropriated by the
Any new additional
funding requests have been challenged by the Council as costs surpass
incoming revenue in the County’s budget and CEDIT moneys have been used to
plug the hole.
“We’re in quite a
funding crunch,” Evans said.
NIPRA said the $20,000 from the County plus a $50,000 commitment from the
City of Valparaiso would be used for a $2 million local match to begin an
environmental impact study. Once the study is complete, the Federal Railroad
Administration looks to fund construction on the $1 billion project and
create thousands of construction jobs.
could travel from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio in less than four hours,
according to NIPRA. One of the planned stops is in Valparaiso.
NIPRA has visited
county commissions and cities in northern Indiana where the rail would pass
through to see if they will help fund the project.
Voting on the
measure were Evans and Commissioners Nancy Adams, R-Center, and Laura Shurr
“We’ve talked about
it and we would not like to be the only entity that does not participate,”
In other matters,
Sheriff David Lain told the Commissioners that the Indiana Department of
Corrections has certified the opening of the B pod at the Porter County
Jail, adding 109 beds to ease crowded conditions.
“It is up to their
standards,” Lain said.
The Jail has
undergone renovation since early March and the County spent $234,000 in the
process. The pod was recently toured by the state jail inspector.
Originally to open
in April, Lain said delays occurred because of officers leaving their jobs.
New hires require about seven weeks of training.
The nine new jail
officers have been hired, Lain said, but four will need to undergo training.
He expects the B pod will be in operation by the end of this month or early
The funding for the
new officers, $450,000 was approved by the County Council last year.
Evans told Lain
that the air conditioning system at the jail has been replaced as part of
other renovations for the jail.
“I’m sure our 420
inmates appreciate that,” Lain said.
also approved a contract with Stellar Services Commissary for a new kiosk in
the jail’s booking area making it easier for receiving inmate deposits. Lain
said this will mean less handling of money by his staff.
Evans asked if
there will be any problems for inmates getting back their money. Lain said
the money is refunded on a debit card system.
The contract is at
no additional cost to the County as Stellar Services will be able to collect
signed off on a resolution to include Porter County in the Northwest Indiana
Economic Development District created in part by the Northwest Indiana
NWI Forum’s new CEO
and President Heather Ennis presented the resolution that would make the
County eligible for federal grants from the Economic Development
Ennis said it is
not known at this time how much the County could receive but the money
granted would promote private-public partnerships and readying economic
The NWIEDD was
started in 2009 and is putting together a comprehensive economic development
strategy plan for the counties of Porter, LaPorte and Lake, Ennis said.
Also on Tuesday,
the Board of Commissioners ordered up a Request for Proposals seeking an
As the County
Council recently put out a similar request for the $159 million in prodeeds
from the sale of Porter Meorial Hospital, this would be an advisor strictly
for the County Board of Finance which is comprised of the Commissioners and
County Treasurer Mike Bucko.
The advisor sought
is one who has experience with clients who have more than $150 million in
Evans said that
this does not mean that the Commissioners are moving in one direction for
the hospital money, but are seeking to learn what other option they have for
investing that money.
Bucko said he wants
to find what investment method has “the least amount of exposure and the
also gave the nod to Bucko’s request to approve the tax sale support
contract with SRI for this year. The company, based in Indianapolis, will
collect a $70 fee for each parcel.
Superintendent Al Hoagland told the Commissioners he will ask the County
Council if he can use $750,000 of the Major Moves money for road projects
and construction of a concrete foundation for a snow dome near the Town of
Hoagland at a
previous Commissioner meeting talked about using CEDIT for the dome but felt
that Major Moves allocations would be a better option since CEDIT is being
used to close funding gaps in the County budget.
The Major Moves
money comes from the state’s sale of the toll road and $500,000 would be for
road repair due to damages from winter storms while $250,000 would be for
the dome, Hoagland said. The dome is needed, he said, because the state has
mandated that salt be covered.
“We’re going to
need every road dollar we’ve got this year,” Hoagland said.
The Council is
scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May 28.
Can’t beat a dollar
Commissioners approved a new contract with Porter-Starke Services for new
wellness programs for County employees.
The cost for the
Porter-Starke for its “willingness” to provide the service at a bargain