Chesterton Tribune



Council allows Auditor to pay bill for mapping with non-reverting fund

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Some is better than none for Porter County Auditor Robert Wichlinski who was denied spending the full $129,000 he requested to pay for numerous contractual services out of his non-reverting fund by a majority of the County Council.

He was however allowed $75,000 to pay bills due on the Pictometry aerial photography that is used in his office, the assessorís and other county departments. A small portion of that money can be used for legal counsel during Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals hearings, or for continuing the crackdown on homestead credit violators.

If Wichlinski wants more money, he can come back to ask the Council for it, Council member Robert Poparad, D-at large, said.

ďIím perfectly comfortable with that,Ē Wichlinski said.

Bills to Pictometry added up to roughly $69,000. The company has been paid routinely over the years through the auditorís non-reverting fund, and the funds then recouped from the tax credit violaters.

The Council last month had tabled Wichlinskiís request as he said then that much of the expense was for services to the County Assessor.

Assessor Jon Snyder said he wasnít sure of what expenses needed pay but did acknowledge the help Pictometry is to his office, as it is used daily.

The imaging system is used by the GIS department and other departments which use maps, Wichlinski said. ďItís becoming indispensable. Itís an important part of our assessing system.Ē

But Popard along with Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, Vice-President Karen Conover, R-3rd, and member Sylvia Graham, D-at large, raised questions about the volume of money going out to consultants from the non-reverting fund. Poparad said he didnít think the auditorís office needed an attorney all the time for the PTABOA hearings.

Those four members along with Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, denied Wichlinskiís full request with Jim Biggs, R-1st, and Jim Polarek, R-4th casting yes votes.

All seven members did say yes to the reduced amount of $75,000.

Wichlinski said the total quality management program which is run out of the non-reverting fund has brought in $1.6 million in revenues.

Opponentís statement

After the meeting, Wichlinskiís political opponent in the upcoming election race for County Auditor, Vicki Urbanik, gave members of the press statements saying while other department heads are not coming to the Council for additional appropriations Wichlinski has asked for more money to pay consultants while deferring payment on the Pictometry bill.

Urbanik, who is also the County Councilís budget and financial specialist, said in a prepared statement, ďThe County Council has done a good job this year of forcing general fund departments to stay within their budgets. It is time for this runaway spending in this non-reverting fund to come to an end.Ē

Urbanik is running as a Democrat against Wichlinski, a Republican.



Posted 9/26/2014




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