The Porter County
Council Thursday agreed unanimously to maintain funding for Opportunity
Enterprises, Porter-Starke Services and the Family and Youth Services Bureau
at the funding amounts they requested.
As the budget
currently stands, the organizations will be funded with a mix of money from
the County’s General Fund and the interest generated from the sale proceeds
of the former county hospital.
Enterprises was approved at $700,000 in the general fund and could receive
an extra $50,000 out of hospital interest by the time the 2015 budgets are
approved at $1.9 million in the General Fund which is a 2.7 increase over
the current year because of the state’s growth quotient for the levy.
Same as last year,
the Council agreed to dip into hospital interest by allocating $600,000 to
the Family and Youth Services Bureau.
“These are services
we’ve agreed are important for the community that fits the bill of hospital
interest. That’s why we did it,” said Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd.
Karen Conover, R-3rd, asked if the hospital interest fund is in potential
danger of being used up as the Council has approved spending more than what
the fund is able to generate.
Dan Whitten, D-at large, said the County will be able to generate more
interest funds once the community endowment foundation is created, which he
hopes will be next year.
Federal cuts hit
County Aging and Community Services (PCACS), which provides bus
transportation for senior and disabled citizens throughout the county,
requested an increase of $80,000 over 2014’s budget for a total of $450,000
Director Bruce Lindner said the Public Mass Transportation Fund granted by
the federal government cut their allocation by $118,000 for next year.
adjustments have been made this year to deal with cuts. PCACS will give
about 18,000 rides this year compared to 25,000 a year ago. The service is
using 31 busses instead of 35, he said.
Because PCACS is
giving fewer rides and other bus lines are seeing a boost in ridership,
Lindner said the grant was slashed. He compared the situation to a “pie”
that had seven players taking money out of it. Now there are nine, he said.
Rivas and Council
member Robert Poparad, D-at large, suggested Lindner talk with other bus
lines in the area on how services could be improved.
The question here,
Poparad said, is “should economics force rethinking.”
Council member Jim
Biggs, R-1st, said this is the third year in a row the state or federal
government has cut funding.
“I think you have a
wonderful program but this is not sustainable,” he said.
preliminarily approved the request at $450,000 out of hospital interest but
Whitten said they should revisit the item at the end of the budget hearings.
In other business,
Council members approved the 2015 budget for the Soil and Water department
without a $4,000 increase to its office supplies line item.
They hope to put
the line item into the County Commissioners’ budget. The Commissioners this
year implemented centralized purchasing for office supplies for all County
departments as a means to save money.
Hearing that other
departments have had difficulty in getting items they requested, the Council
will talk with the Commissioners next Tuesday about having a written policy
for office supplies.
At the end of
Thursday, only minor budget decreases were made by the Council in the Soil
and Water and Auditor budgets.
If the Council
wishes to pass the budget with the General Fund at $36.5 million, it still
needs to slash $4.9 million, said the Council’s budget and finance
specialist Vicki Urbanik.