Chesterton Tribune



County Council to name appointing authority for Porter County Park Board

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The County Council plans to decide how to change the appointing authority for the County Park Board at its August or September meeting.

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, Council President Dan Whitten (D-At-Large) asked members to contemplate what elected official should be named as an appointing authority to the Park Board.

A new law effective July 1 gives the Council the option to change the format of the Park Board by adding extra members and/or granting a new County official appointing authority over one of the Board seats. The law allows counties that don’t want to change their boards the option not to, but if the local county council doesn’t act by the end of the year, they lose their opportunity, and the board of commissioners gets a chance.

“We’re doing it,” Whitten said. Council member Sylvia Graham (D-At-Large) agreed: “That’s right.” Whitten suggested the Council should decide and be ready to pass a resolution making the changes at its October meeting.

The Park Board currently has six members--five appointed and one ex officio member representing the local Extension Office. Two members are appointed by Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, two are appointed by the County Council, and one is appointed by the Commissioners.

The new law gives the Commissioners two appointments, leaves the Council at two appointments, and eliminates Harper’s authority. The County official given authority over the last seat cannot be a commissioner or council member.

In other Park business, the Council approved several requests from the Parks Department. The Council approved transfers and additional appropriations totaling $16,586.37 for landscaping materials, seating and native planting at Brincka-Cross Gardens, and pond restoration at Sunset Hill Farm Park. Of that, $2,487.66 was transferred from contractual services, and the rest was appropriated from existing grant funds.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos was excited to report that the new Horton Children’s Center, also called the grain-bin or silo project, at Sunset Hill is nearly complete. Lenckos said the last piece of the puzzle is some excavation on the driveway. The project was funded with grants and donations, using no taxpayer money.

Porter County Library

Whitten also noted that the Council may end up having financial oversight over the Porter County Library with the passage of new law HEA 1343, which limits the amount of reserve funds local libraries can accrue to 150% of their respective operating budgets.

Harper says he isn’t sure if the new statute regarding additional oversight applies to the PCL. Whitten said he doesn’t see the harm in the County being another set of eyes on PCL funds, though he went to a recent PCL Board meeting, and found out, “Their desire is that we don’t take oversight.”

“I kind of equate it to that brief period of time when the Legislature gave us oversight over the Valpo schools. Everyone was upset, thinking we might lay off teachers, but in the end, it was just another set of eyes on the ball,” Whitten said.

Whitten said it wouldn’t hurt to have another set of eyes on the PCL funds: “They’re doing a good job, and they’re doing some really cool things. I don’t think they need our oversight. I just don’t think that it hurts.”



Posted 7/25/2019




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