The Porter County
Council gave its final vote on a county bond Tuesday, approving a bond
issuance for approximately $30 million for capital improvements to County
facilities, before a large crowd of Portage officials, business owners, and
residents, who hoped the County would consider a plan for a new building in
Portage Mayor James
Snyder was among the attendees as the Council passed a motion 7-0 for second
and final reading to adopt a bond process that would allow the County to
borrow money for six substantial renovations, one of which is to remodel the
19,540 square-foot North County Complex in Portage
Shortly prior to
first reading of the bond issuance last month, Portage officials sent County
Council members a report on the cost-benefit analysis for a joined City and
County Government Complex on Central Ave. The analysis said the new center
could bring more development to Portage’s downtown area and generate higher
Commissioners, who drew up the capital improvement projects plan, argued
that their plan to add $10 million in improvements and a 15,000 square-foot
expansion to the current North County Complex, on Willowcreek Rd., would be
Prior to the vote
Tuesday, Council President Mike Jessen, R-4th, said the Commissioners’ plan
isn’t “perfect” but it does address how to fix the County’s most desperate
facility and address space needs.
“I’d suggest to not
let the illusion of perfection get in the way of progress,” Jessen said.
Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, whose district contains Portage, said that even though
he likes the idea of having a building where the County and the City can
work together, the County is willing to put $10 million into Portage,
one-third of the bond itself.
“The population of
Portage is going to benefit,” said Rivas.
Jessen said the
Council could not open the meeting up to public comments because the public
hearing for the bond issuance was at last month’s first reading of the
ordinance. No Portage official spoke at that time.
discussion, Council member Dan Whitten, D-at large, asked the Commissioners
to explain the change in the plan to use the former jail facility in
As announced last
week, County Attorney Scott McClure said the Commissioners will look to
build on to the Administration Building’s courtyard instead of acquiring the
former jail because the current owner has rejected the County’s offer to
purchase, which was the average of the two appraisals done. The cost of the
two options would be roughly the same and the addition to the courtyard
would be about 27,000 square feet.
moving offices for the court and the 911 Center into the Administration
Building, McClure added.
adjusted its budget hearing schedule to include an additional night
exclusively focused on employee salary increases and additional items.
Whitten said now
that the budget adoption is scheduled for Oct. 26, the Council should have
more time to consider raise requests. The Council decided it could meet
Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 5 p.m.
Also on Tuesday,
the Council met with the Commissioners as the Porter County Government
Nonprofit Charitable Foundation, going over its quarterly report with
representatives from investment advisor Capital Cities LLC. The Foundation
holds the investment of the Porter Memorial Hospital sale proceeds.
continues to perform well, the firm said, and in this quarter ending on June
30, the Foundation saw an investment gain of $3.5 million.
CHS student learns
Council member Andy
Bozak, R-1st, introduced a special guest at the meeting -- Chesterton High
School Freshman Timothy Wheeler -- who received a round of applause from the
Council and the audience.
Bozak said Wheeler
was interning for his college and career preparation class and has an
interest in politics.