At its meeting
Tuesday, the Porter County Council voted 6-1 to grant $50,000 towards the
Election Board’s purchase of 89 electronic poll books from vendor Election
Software and Systems.
The e-poll books
have been a point of contention between the Council and the Election Board,
which had signed a contract for equipment without consulting either the
Council or the Commissioners leaving the County on the hook for a total of
approximately $50,000 annually for three years.
The sole vote
against the latest payout came from Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at
In February the
Council voted 4-3 on the first payout of $52,286 after learning from its
attorney, then Scott McClure, that a lawsuit could occur if the contract for
the e-poll books was not honored.
By agreeing to the
contract however, ES&S offered a credit if the County should choose to renew
its agreement with them to be their vendor. The current contract is due to
expire at the end of this year, said Republican Director of the Voters
Registration Office Sundae Schoon.
If the County
chooses to upgrade the poll books, ES&S has said it will offer to buy back
the poll books the County has previously acquired at fair market value since
a newer model has already been released.
The Election Board
began using e-poll books for the 2015 municipal elections and the only time
they were used this year was at the County’s three early voting locations.
Next year, there are no regular elections but there may be a referendum held
for the Michigan City Schools which only affects two precincts in the
county, Schoon said.
Schoon said the
Election Board is meeting next week on Dec. 13 when it will likely discuss
the use of e-poll books in the future.
President Dan Whitten, D-at large, said he would like to put together a
small group of Council members and election officials to “iron out this
thing that has taken on a lot of issues.”
Among the approvals
made, the Council voted 7-0 to pass the 2017 salary ordinance for County
Government employees, including a revised salary for Sheriff Dave Reynolds
of $146,311 instead of $143,424 approved at final reading in October.
The salary was
changed to match that of the County Prosecutor, which is paid mostly by the
had approved the salary in the Sheriff’s compensation agreement for 2017 as
well as adjusting the 2016 salary.
County Auditor said
the Sheriff’s Department had noticed the error after submitting the budget
to the state and worked to get it corrected.
officers were among the few employees who were granted special raises for
next year by the Council, to make them more comparable to salaries paid to
Portage and Valparaiso Police. Employees not receiving special raises will
be given an across-the-board raise of $1,500.
PCCRVC water bills
Also Tuesday, the
Council said they would like to hear more information regarding how Indiana
American Water has been reportedly under billing the County Convention,
Recreation and Visitors Commission on the request the PCCRVC made to
compensate the water company $1,000 for under billing.
“It just seems a
little odd,” said Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st.
Director Lorelei Weimer said she is not sure how the discrepancy occurred
but the situation is similar to when it was discovered that the Town of
Porter was under billing the Visitor Center for sewage.
Weimer said the
Visitor Center does see a lot of traffic in the summer months which may have
contributed to deviation but she believes the matter has been properly
“We have a better
feel for it,” she said.
The Council voted
to approve the PCCRVC’s other requests, $10,000 for bike route signs and
posts and $20,000 for asphalt seal coating and striping done this year in
the Visitor Center parking lot. The funds come from the collected
Innkeeper’s Tax charged to hotel guests.
approvals made by the Council Tuesday included the $190,000 in grant funds
to be used by the Porter County Substance Abuse Committee which will be used
for administration and education.
The County Parks
Department received approval to use $7,750 in its non-reverting fund for the
acquisition of 15 additional acres at Brincka-Cross Gardens.
A job well done
The Council ended
its final meeting of the year with a heartfelt send off for longtime Council
member Robert Poparad, D-at large, and Biggs, who will be taking a seat on
the Board of County Commissioners after Dec. 31. Poparad was not re-elected
to the Council in the recent general election.
Whitten said he is
happy to have shared ten years working with Poparad and that he’s never
worked with anyone “that has had a better understanding of the constraints
and challenges” of the budgets of County Government.
“His expertise will
be absolutely missed,” Whitten said. He presented Poparad with a decorative
baseball bat as a token of appreciation.
saying “I hope I have worked to the benefit of the county, making a little
progress here and there.”
Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, said that it’s “been a pleasure” working with Poparad
and that he has “a sneaking suspicion” that there is a chance Poparad may be
back on the Council in the future. Poparad served two four-year terms as the
first district representative and most recently was elected as an at-large
member for one term.
In his farewell to
the Council, Biggs said he has been “impressed” by the intelligence of every
member and the experiences have better prepared him for his future role as
North District County Commissioner.
Karen Conover, R-3rd, commended all her peers on the work this year. “I
think it’s been a great year. We’ve accomplished a lot. We came together and
we should be proud.”