Chesterton Tribune



Commissioners set unsafe building fund for unincorporated Porter County

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Porter County Government will soon have the resources to remove hazardous buildings in the unincorporated areas as the Board of Commissioners voted favorably to enact an ordinance for an unsafe building fund.

Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said he’s “as pleased as punch” for the County to have the find, jesting that it has needed one “for 100 years” as it has always been a fight to clear out those structures.

“We’re now going to have a way to pay for it,” he said.

Evans, with Commissioners Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, and Jeff Good, R-Center, voted for the ordinance at their meeting Tuesday as well as an ordinance listing the plan commission and building fees that will be collected for the fund.

“We’ve asked why can’t we do something about this but we’ve never had the funding. This couldn’t have come at a better time,” Good said.

Director of the County’s Development and Stormwater Management Department Robert Thompson said an administrative judge will be able to determine whether a structure should be removed.

Evans said no buildings will be removed until a year after the fund has had time to collect funds. “It’s not cheap.”

According to the proposed ordinance for building permit fees, up to $150 on an open frame porch on a single-family residence, up to $250 on an enclosed frame porch, up to $100 for an open deck and up to $150 on residential demolition will be allocated to the unsafe building fund. Building fees for homes are $500 plus 20 cents for each square foot.

Accessory building fees will also go to support the unsafe building fund as will those for pools and fences for residences.

Commercial properties will have higher fees that will go to the fund, up to $900 for outdoor advertising structures, and up to $1,500 for solar conversion and wind energy conversion systems.

The ordinances, if passed on second reading, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The Commissioners voted in favor of a third ordinance Thompson presented that would require developers of any building more than five stories to have a good connection for radio communication for E-911 in that building.

Facility purchases

In business matters, the Commissioners agreed to purchase four new domestic boilers at the Porter County Jail for a total package of $25,845.

County Facilities Director Matt Stechly said only two of the four boilers are operating. The Commissioners awarded the lowest bidder which was Mechanical Concepts of Gary. Two competing bidders were Precision Control Systems and Circle R Mechanical.

The Commissioners also voted to pay $46,000 in maintenance costs for backup batteries by Mitsubishi Electric for the Porter County Jail and E-911 Center.

Good said the County does have a back-up generator but it takes 15 to 20 seconds for it to kick in should the power go out. The batteries will activate during that time to keep the equipment operating until the generator comes on.

“It’s very vital and could save somebody’s life,” he said.

Jail medical bids

In other Jail business, the Commissioners received proposals submitted for round-the-clock medical services at the Jail as the current contract with Correctional Care Solutions is expiring this year.

CCS was one of two respondents for the new Request for Proposals. The other was Quality Correctional Health Care.

“A very complicated and significant contract,” according to County Attorney Scott McClure, the Sheriff’s Office will review the two proposals and make a recommendation at the next Commissioner meeting on Dec. 20.

The Commissioners also approved the compensation agreement for the County Sheriff for 2017 and retroactive 2016 with the new salary information.

Comp time

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik told the Commissioners that her department has worked to monitor and will be making monthly reports on compensatory time accrued in the County Government offices.

Evans said the comp time reports will be part of the Commissioners meeting from now on like payroll and claims.

Museum worker

The Commissioners approved Porter County Museum Director Kevin Pazour’s request to contract with Americorps to have another member help out at the Museum, at 153 Franklin St. in Valparaiso.

Pazour said the Museum has seen many visitors this year, about 10,000 total, and his crew have been busy. The new Americorps worker would facilitate the Museum’s education goals of having every 4th grader in the County experience the Museum in some way, either by welcoming them on field trips or by bring artifacts to the classroom, Pazour said.

With the agreement, Pazour said there is a stipend of under $10,000 which the Commissioners agreed to pay.

In other business, the Commissioners received and opened bids for Highway Department supplies for 2017, approved catering contracts for the Expo Center next year and a list of artistic services agreements for the Memorial Opera House.

They also approved worker longevity pay for the second half of 2016 and the 2017 holiday schedule for County workers. There are ten holidays on the calendar next year when County facilities will be closed for observances.

Bicentennial Day

Next Sunday, Dec. 11 will be known as Indiana Statehood Day in Porter County.

The Commissioners approved a proclamation commemorating the 200th anniversary of Indiana’s statehood on Sunday. The bicentennial celebration will be a time to honor the Indiana’s past, set the course for the future and prepare a path for its youth, according to the proclamation read aloud by Evans.

Indiana was the 19th state admitted to the nation by an act signed by President James Madison on December 11, 1816.




Posted 12/8/2016




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