In its second night
of budget hearings, the Porter County voted to accept on second readings to
hospital sale interest money for non-profit community services.
amounts given for the past two years, the Council on Thursday approved
allocating $600,000 for the Family and Youth Services Bureau and $450,000
for the Council on Aging and Community Services.
interest fund allocations also include $50,000 to Opportunity Enterprises
for next year on top of the $700,000 it will receive from the County’s
Vicki Urbanik said the total remainder in interest funds from the sale of
Porter Memorial Hospital is currently $4.1 million.
Although the fund
is shrinking with each passing year -- the fund held almost $11 million at
one time -- the Council is expecting more interest to come from the
investment in the Foundation endowment fund set up last year.
Dan Whitten, D-at large, said the Foundation is beginning to produce yields
and the Council will see those at a meeting next Tuesday.
The County has
funded community service groups at various levels in the past from other
sources. They have relied on the County for more money as grants from the
federal and state levels have dissipated.
FYSB President Lisa
Jordan said “very little” has changed with federal funding but some strides
have been made in finding local sources. The organization has secured grants
of about $10,000 total for its alcohol and drug defense program and
strengthening families program through the Porter County Substance Abuse
currently on a budget of a little more than $2 million, made up from 19
different funding sources.
Also, the Council
voted yes to second reading for Porter-Starke Services to receive $2,033,343
for 2017, about a $42,000 increase. Urbanik said the law stipulates that the
money come from the County’s General Fund Budget and is allowed to increase
under the state’s assessed value growth quotient, which is 3.8 percent next
Services Director Rocco Schiralli said the number of clients has gone up 13
percent since last year, explaining that “the need for behavioral health
services continues to increase.”
A lot of progress
has been made too in reducing the stigma of mental health issues, he said,
as more people are coming in for help.
going to be adding a new psychiatrist in October who is going to specialize
in child and adolescent psychiatry, Schiralli added. The industry though has
been seeing a relatively high turnover rate, he said, as older doctors are
retiring and there are fewer new ones coming into the field.
Assessor’s office will be funding another year of imaging services from
Pictometry for $100,000. Half of that is expected to come out of the General
Fund while the other half is going to come out of the Reassessment budget.
Assessor Jon Snyder said there has been no increase in the budget for the
last six years and not changing it has helped with its outlook, which is why
Urbanik advised Snyder to use part of the budget for Pictometry.
images in detail so sharp they can be used to measure properties and
buildings and has saved the Assessor’s Office about $125,000 by not having
to send out workers, Snyder said. The system is available in the Assessor’s
Office to use by other departments and municipalities but is currently not
online. That would be cost an extra $5,000.
Robert Poparad, D-at large, said he wishes the images could be available
online for others to use and would like to find the additional funding for
budget was approved on second reading at $754,000. That’s a little over
$20,000 less than what was originally proposed because the Council ended up
taking out legal services.
Whitten said he’s
heard discussion about the County creating a legal department that would
consolidate its legal budgets and eliminate the need for the line item in
the Assessor budget.
The Council passed
on second reading budgets including the Porter County Airport, Weights and
Measures, County Recorder, County Coroner, Veterans Office, County
Treasurer, Health Department and ITS Department without much discussion, as
those budgets were submitted to be the same or nearly the same as last year.
for increase in part-time hourly line items include the Extension Office and
the Auditor’s Office.
Director Annetta Jones said she is looking to offer a higher hourly rate for
someone who would assist the 4-H program with STEM projects -- science,
technology, engineering and math. The rate had been reduced in a previous
year’s budget, she said.
Urbanik proposed an
additional $25,000 to her hourly pay for a part-time employee to assist with
mapping/GIS. With the County’s new stormwater department, there is more work
required in the GIS Department, Urbanik said.
Urbanik also shared
with the Council that the Auditor’s non-reverting fund, which holds funds
collected from homestead credit violations, will be returning over $200,000
to the County’s General Fund.
Also, the Soil and
Water Department’s budget included a $20,000 added cost for water quality
testing, $15,000 for supplies and $5,000 for contractual services.
Supervisor Keith Gustafson said the department is now testing in the south
parts of the county whenever there is a significant rain while the National
Lakeshore is testing in the north.
Council member Jim
Biggs, R-1st, suggested asking the new County Stormwater Board if they would
find a way they could pay for the testing rather than the Soil & Water
The Council will
continue with hearings next Tuesday and Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s agenda includes the Highway Department, Stormwater Management and
Planning Department, Animal Shelter, County Surveyor and Parks Department.