The Porter County
Council has encouraged departments to keep their spending down for the 2017
general fund budgets but they are also supporting a large increase to the
Animal Shelter as it moves to a bigger facility next year.
The Council voted
7-0 on a budget proposed at $436,400, but did take out salary increases for
current employees just as they have done with the other budgets.
budget in 2016, for comparison, is about $336,000.
the new 14,000 sq. ft. shelter is currently underway near the corner of
Division Rd. and Ind. 49. Completion is scheduled for next June. The current
Shelter is located at Ind. 2 and Heavlin Rd. just south of Valparaiso and is
approximately 4,000 sq. ft. in size.
Director Toni Bianchi at Tuesday’s second reading of the budget said she
would like to hire two additional full-time employees. Those would be
supervisors for the dog and cat kennels.
definitely wanted. We will have three times as many animals to deal with,”
she said. “It will be very helpful to all of us to have someone oversee all
The new employees
would bring the total to five full-time workers. Bianchi’s salary is
proposed to stay the same at $60,000 and she is seeking moderate raises for
a manager’s position and an adoption person from about $32,000 to $35,000 as
their responsibilities will inevitably increase with the larger facility.
The raises were
taken out of the Council’s second reading vote and will be considered with
all the other pay increase requests at final reading on Oct. 27.
increase is in the amount of funding for part-time hourly workers, which
Bianchi hopes to increase from about $124,000 to $160,000.
spoke in support of many of the figures Bianchi presented with the help of
County Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South.
“We want a
state-of-the-art Shelter,” said Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large.
“A lot of (effort) has gone into this.”
Council member Jim
Biggs, R-1st, said he was “shocked” that the budget only increased by
$100,000, thinking it would be much larger given the expanded space of the
Bianchi said the
Shelter will still operate as a no-kill shelter and all dogs and cats would
be spayed and neutered before they are adopted.
The Council also
discussed at length the Shelter’s supplemental fund which includes the fees
the County receives through the Animal Control ordinance from cities and
towns in the county which pay for the service. All have signed contracts
expect Portage, which has taken its animals to the Humane Society in Hobart.
Whitten said he has
been in contact with Portage City Council members and they are nearing an
“It will be much
better for their animals,” added Blaney.
Shelter’s supplemental fund has received about $60,000 from the services
were approved for the County Highway Department, Opportunity Enterprises,
Emergency Management Agency, Recycling and Waste Reduction District and
The County’s new
stormwater department’s budget was approved at $3.4 million for 2017, mainly
projected to be raised through the new Stormwater fee.
Director Robert Thompson told the Council the Plan Commission Department’s
budget continues to increase which is supported by building fees.
“Things seem to be
doing better this year,” he said.
Also, the County
Park Department is seeking to move its office coordinator position from
part-time to full-time, to be paid out of the department’s non-reverting
operations fund which gets its support from program fees.
Superintendent Walter Lenckos said the position was changed from full-time
to part-time when he was hired in 2010 and he wishes it could revert back to
the former because there are times when the work goes beyond 30 hours per
the operations fund at $262,000 for 2017, which is a notable increase from
this year, but Lenckos said he is confident that will be achieved with fees
from programs the department is planning for next year.
With the approval
of the Expo Center’s budget on second reading, Whitten announced that the
County Visitors Commission will be brought back Thursday to continue
discussion on the venue fund that goes to support the Parks Department, Expo
Center, Memorial Opera House and the Porter County Museum.
Council members talked about increasing the amounts those venues get in
order to support marketing and tourism.