The Porter County
Council showed it’s ready to get moving on two subjects that have been in
limbo for months.
scheduling a special meeting next week to make a preliminary determination
of whether Porter Regional Hospital is in compliance with its 10-year tax
abatement (see related story), the Council on Wednesday voted 7-0 to create
a new charitable non-profit community foundation with the intent of
investing Porter Memorial Hospital sale proceeds.
Now that the
Council has voted to create its own controlled endowment, the County
Commissioners will have to determine whether or not to go along.
have looked at placing the money with a community foundation which would
provide a higher rate of return than current investment funds. The interest
generated would purportedly be used to close the gaps in the County’s
general fund budget.
In order for any of
the $159 million in PMH sale proceeds to be touched, both boards must give
their unanimous support according to a stipulation in the County’s
“We have to be
cohesive as the Commissioners and the Council. They (Commissioners) have to
act on it as well,” said Council Vice-President Karen Conover, R-3rd.
member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, pointed out it was the Commissioners who first
called on the Council to consider placing the funds into an endowment.
“We’ve waited long enough. It’s my belief that we need to move forward on
received a total of five responses from a Request for Information seeking
companies which could help set up a community foundation, two from community
foundations and three from financial advisors.
Members said they
would look at the responses but Council attorney Scott McClure said he will start the paperwork on
the foundation even before the Commissioners give their vote.
All Council members
emphasized the need to move forward.
money by not getting this money invested. We’ve got to roll,” Council
President Dan Whitten, D-at large, said. The County has the option of
waiting to see if the state will allow county government’s better investment
options but Whitten said that is doubtful.
“It has been too
long. Way too long,” echoed Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at large.
The Council had
been given a memo earlier this year by Indianapolis law firm Hall Render
Killian Heath & Lyman on the options it has on investing the sale proceeds.
Another option the County had been considering was investing with the
existing Porter County Community Foundation. However, the Council would have
limited control over how the proceeds are invested, while by having their
own Foundation the County could have complete oversight.
“To me, it comes to
accountability. Handing it over to another foundation where we don’t have
appointments, I’m not okay with that,” said Rivas. With its own foundation,
the County could appoint a board of directors.
Whitten said the
action to create a foundation does not preclude the Council from investing
in existing foundations. “We need to have all our options on the table,” he
Council member Jim
Biggs, R-1st, said the Commissioners may not fully agree with the Council’s
decision but nothing will get accomplished unless action is taken.
During its business
portion, the Council voted unanimously for a $10,000 additional in its own
budget to pay for the services Hall Render has provided.