In spite of a
shortage in casino fund revenues, Porter County employees are set to receive
their second installment of longevity pay this year, with the County
offered to transfer $160,000 from their PERF budget and $20,000 in the FICA
budgets into longevity. The move was approved Tuesday night on a 7-0 vote by
the County Council.
According to the
pay scale, longevity payments start after a full-time county employee has
been with the county for three years of service, at which time $225 is added
to their salary.
The next raise
happens after the employee has reached five years with an addition of $375
and the scale continues to rise in five year increments -- $750 after 10
years, $1,125 for 15 years, $1,500 for 20 years, $1,875 for 25 years, and
maxes out at thirty years with $2,250.
received their first pay out for 2014 earlier this year of $179,250 once the
county’s share of casino funds from the state of about $400,000 were
received. That amount however was not enough to fund the second longevity
The Council decided
in June to go to the Commissioners about funding a second draw. County
Budget and Financial Specialist Vicki Urbanik said they found a way to
distribute longevity in the Commissioners’ budget using FICA and PERF.
Auditor debts to be
The Council agreed
unanimously on nearly all the requests made Tuesday by department heads,
with the exception of County Auditor Robert Wichlinski’s petition to use
$45,000 from the Auditor’s non-reverting fund to cover contractual
obligations for the rest of the year, including work Wichlinski hoped to get
done in December.
Wichlinski has made
requests throughout the year to pay consultants which, more often than not,
have been shot down by the Council. The auditor’s spending on consultants
has come under fire from some Council members, despite Wichlinski’s claims
that they have brought in more money from recovered homestead credit fraud
than what they are being paid.
Wichlinski said he
wished to have all bills paid up by the end of the year to make matters
easier on auditor-elect Urbanik when she takes office in January.
“My goal here is to
have everything clean and buttoned up,” Wichlinski said.
Urbanik told the
Council she would like “no lingering obligations including work that needs
to be paid for in the month of December.”
The Council voted
down the request for $45,000 with a split vote of 4-3. Voting against were
Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, and members Sylvia Graham, D-at
large, Robert Poparad, D-at large, and Karen Conover, R-3rd.
Voting in favor
were Council members Jim Biggs, R-1st, Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, and Jim Polarek,
The Council however
was more favorable toward paying what is currently owed. Wichlinski said
about $5,000 is owed to Hannon and Hannon, which is investigating homestead
violators; $5,000 to DRD for scanning services; $5,000 to $10,000 for Cender
and Company, which is helping with accounting; and $5,000 to Burke,
Constanza and Carberry, which is representing the Auditor in real estate and
Also requested was
a transfer of $5,000 in the non-reverting fund from office supplies to pay
for tablet devices used by staff.
Poparad said if
Wichlinski tells his consultants “to stay home” this month, the County will
not have to worry about paying bills for December.
that he was expecting an additional intake of $60,000 this next month in tax
settlements from work done by consultants.
A motion made by
Conover to pay the outstanding bills of $30,000 was met with a 7-0 vote. The
vote on the transfer for $5,000 saw a split 5-2 vote in favor of the
request. Dissenting were Graham and Rivas.
fund currently has $323,816 in it. Commissioner President John Evans,
R-North, sitting in on the meeting, said he thought state law would only
permit the non-reverting to hold a maximum $100,000 and anything over that
would revert to the County General Fund.
Scott McClure said the fund can hold more than $100,000 if the funds are
approved by the County Council for the purpose of going after homestead
Biggs said it
should be pointed out that the Wichlinski is not spending money at his will.
All funds expended have had the previous approval of the County Council.
Urbanik said she
plans to bring a revised 2015 Auditor’s budget before the Council at the
start of next year.
Also, the Council
approved transfers of nearly $36,000 in total to pay part-time personnel at
the Animal Shelter through the end of the year.
Most of what was
transferred came out of the budgeted salary for an assistant director, who
has since left the Shelter. The position has been vacant for quite some
time, according to Shelter Director Jon Thomas.
budgeted for four full-time employees and currently is operating with three,
along with an abundance of part-time workers to cover without an assistant
budget is currently running in the red by more than $4,000, Thomas said, and
the Shelter is still relying heavily on those workers.
have subsided substantially as well, Thomas said. The most he’s seen on
weekends are five or fewer, sometimes none during the week.
“I wish we had
more,” he said.
The shelter has
been looking for a new assistant director, Thomas told the Council, but
there hasn’t been much interest. The position currently pays a salary of
Thomas to post the position through local newspapers.
The Council will
convene for a special meeting on Monday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m., to consider
health plan costs.