Council members voted 6-0 in favor of a revised policy regarding waivers on
delinquent property tax penalties.
Vicki Urbanik said the policy is the result of a new state law that went
into effect this July that gives county fiscal bodies the ability to
authorize the county auditor and treasurer to waive penalty fees.
According to the
policy, the fee can be dropped for specific reasons -- if the taxpayer is
incapacitated due to death or death of an immediate family member within a
three-month period of the tax bill due date, if the taxpayer is
hospitalized, if the taxpayer is absent due to actively serving in the
military when the taxes are due, or if there is an error on part of the
county in posting the payment.
government entities can also receive a waiver on properties acquired if it
is determined they can demonstrate that they performed due diligence in
payment of outstanding taxes or if applying for tax exempt status.
All requests for
fee waivers need to be put in writing to the County Auditor’s Office and the
taxpayer is encouraged to submit any documentation that may support their
Urbanik said that
requests by taxpayers to have their fees withdrawn because they claim they
did not see the tax bill, that it got “lost in the mail” or cannot make
payments due to economic hardship are not sufficient reasons for their
request to be granted.
have the responsibility to make their tax payments on time because we need
to be fair with those who do pay on time,” Urbanik said.
Taking a respite
from elections this year, the Election Board is using this time to research
new equipment purchases to replace the aging election machines.
“After the election
cycle completed last year, we are doing a review of the election process,”
Board President and Republican representative David Bengs said. Helping the
board are the two directors in the Voters Registration Office, Republican
Director Sundae Schoon and Democratic Director Kathy Kozuszek.
The next step would
be to issue a request for proposals to help decide which equipment to
purchase, Bengs said. The Council agreed the board should proceed.
Schoon said they
are seeking to streamline the voting process in the future with the
equipment available from vendors who are certified by the state.
Sylvia Graham, D-at large, said she would like to make sure there is a paper
trail in case there needs to be a recount or equipment failure. Schoon said
it will be in the RFP requiring the machines to have a paper trail.
Kozuszek said she
is asking that there be a buyback clause in the final contract where the
vendor would pay fair market value for any equipment in case of a buyback.
The board will seek
bids for 30 days and hopes to have them by October.
Mike Jessen, R-4th, said he appreciates the board including the Council and
the Commissioners in the discussion. Council members censured the board when
it decided to purchase a large number of electronic poll books without
consulting either them or the Commissioners.
Time and attendance
In other matters,
the Council voted 6-0 in favor of the IT Department and the Auditor’s Office
installing new time and attendance software as part of the County’s new
payroll system, even though the cost of maintenance raised a few eyebrows.
The installation of
the software from Right Stuff Software is a one-time cost of $40,000 but the
maintenance per month is $3,000, or $36,000 annually.
“That seems like an
exorbitant amount of money,” Council member Jeff Larson, R-at large, told
Urbanik. He asked if this was the typical cost for a system like this and if
there were costs eliminated elsewhere, such as bookkeeping.
Urbanik said the
proposals that came in were all different and the Right Stuff Software was
determined to be the most economical for the County’s needs. The
Commissioners have said that there is no other County government in the
state as big as Porter operating without a time clock system.
clock in through a computer, except for the Highway Department because those
employees do not use computers in their everyday tasks, Urbanik said. The
system will keep track automatically of leave time for vacation, sick,
personal and comp times.
Urbanik offered to
pay $10,000 out of her budget to pay for the installation, reducing the
request in the County IT’s general fund budget to $30,000. It will be an
additional $9,000 to pay for the maintenance until the end of the year.
-- The first payout
of employee longevity was approved for $172,000 from the County’s Riverboat
Fund, which is money received by the state as a tax on casinos. Urbanik said
there was a delay in getting the allocation due to an error on the state’s
-- The County will
pay Capital Cities LLC $16,250 for its services as the investment advisor
for the hospital sale proceeds.
-- The Animal
Shelter will launch a new website with $8,000 it has received in donations.
-- Both the Parks
Department and the Memorial Opera House received approval to use grant
moneys. With help from the Opera House Foundation Board, the Opera House
will put together a manual on rehabilitating the facility with $70,000 from
a state grant. The Parks will use $15,000 in grant monies for improvements
at Sunset Hill Farm. The Council also approved a transfer of roughly $10,000
in the Parks’ general fund budget for more improvements using excess funds
from employee liability insurance.