Comments made by
Portage City elected officials have stirred up ire on the Porter County
Council and the County Board of Commissioners regarding the new foundation
endowment fund established for investing the proceeds from the sale of the
county’s Porter Memorial Hospital.
The Council and
Commissioners met jointly Tuesday for their quarterly meetings on the
Foundation. The two make up the Foundation’s board of trustees.
the three firms to serve as their non-voting advisors -- 1st Source Bank of
Valparaiso, Peoples Bank of Munster, and Horizon Bank of Michigan City --
board members expressed a need to counter claims made by Portage Mayor James
Snyder and some City Council members.
misleading and it’s all wrong,” County Council Dan Whitten, D-at large,
said. “We have taken a lot of heat from a frame of mind that is just
While the Council
and Commissioners provided no direct quotations of what has been said,
Whitten said it has been insinuated that the County is “sitting with $200
million under a rock somewhere” and is not willing to share it with cash
“I’d like to know
where the other $50 million is,” said Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st,
pointing out the total in hospital sale proceeds available for investment is
closer to $150 million.
Whitten said the
accusation that the County is not lending money is untrue because the total
of hospital money that has been borrowed from the County, reported by County
Treasurer Michelle Clancy, is currently $13,220,000, with $2.975 million
lent to the City of Portage.
Other amounts are
$1.135 million to be paid back by the Town of Chesterton, and $9.11 million
to be paid back by Valparaiso Schools, according to the County Treasurer’s
The money is due to
be paid back to the County from this year until 2019 when it will be
available for the County to invest into the foundation.
Whitten said he
plans to send out a “very informative” press release and believes the
Council and Commissioners deserve credit for the thought and preparation
that has been put into investing the hospital funds so that they can achieve
the biggest return possible and make Porter County prosperous.
officials speculate the negative accusations can be blamed on election year
“This is really
childish,” said Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, who was also
expressed annoyance at the comments.
Karen Conover, R-3rd, said the Foundation money is “for everyone in Porter
County.” She and Council member Robert Poparad, D-at large, hope the
County’s efforts can be respected.
“We need to get the
word out. We have changed the landscape of this county for my
grandchildren,” Poparad said.
A call to Mayor
Snyder for comment was not returned this morning.
The next joint
meeting for the Foundation will be in July.