Chesterton Tribune



County to start up drainage work again; foundation committee meets

Back To Front Page



It’s back to work for crews helping Porter County resolve drainage and flooding issues as the County Council allocated more than $486,000 in county economic development income tax towards projects this year.

The funding had previously been approved by the Council at their 2015 budget hearings but needed to be reallocated to pay new consultants. Twin Creeks Conservancy District will be the vendor for Phase 1 of the storm sewer rehabilitation project in South Haven.

Meanwhile, alleviation work on a smaller scale will be done near the Porter County Highway Dept. facility in Center Twp., said Drainage Board president Dave Burrus. That project will be headed by Sentowski Brothers Excavating.

South Haven, which is the largest unincorporated community in Porter County, experienced major flooding after nearly a foot of torrential rains swept through last August.

“It’s affected a lot of lives,” said Council vice-president Karen Conover, R-3rd.

David Hollenbeck, attorney for Twin Creeks Conservancy District, noted that the Countywide drainage study by DLZ Indiana in 2010 listed South Haven as being the worst site for flooding and estimated remediation would take more than $17 million total.

“This is the beginning. You have to start somewhere,” he said.

Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, asked Burrus if the funding will be enough for the year. Burrus said it should be enough for the first phase and he expects the work to wrap this year.

The entire “package” will take several years, Burrus added. Trying to do the project in one big effort “would be a disaster” and phasing is a wiser direction, he said.

In another budget matter, the County Council appropriated $350,000 to the Local Roads and Streets fund after a snafu in the Motor Vehicle High fund.

The money originally had been advertised in the MVH fund after being appropriated by the state auditor’s office and approved by the Department of Local Government Finance, but the amount was reduced to zero by the State Board of Accounts afterward, County Highway Superintendent David James said.

James said when he investigated the matter, he was told by the SBA that the “entities don’t talk to each other” but the money from the MVH fund could be used for the same purposes in the LRS fund, except for payroll.

The Council approved the additional $350,000 to LRS and other restorations in the Cumulative Bridge Fund by a vote of 6-0.

Also, the Council approved various salary change requests as long as department heads didn’t increase their budgets. Those included the Health Department, the Auditor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Police and Emergency Management Agency.

Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, said that whenever there is a request for a change in salary, he will request that someone from that department be prepared to answer questions the Council may have.

Foundation committee

Whitten and Council Attorney Scott McClure said they, along with Council members Robert Poparad, D-at large, and Sylvia Graham, D-at large, met with the appointees of the new advisory committee for the County’s Community Endowment Foundation and updated them on the current legislation moving downstate that would give counties like Porter more ways to invest proceeds from the sale of an asset.

The committee will continue to move forward with formulating an investment policy instead of waiting on the bill, Whitten added, to start making some return and help close the county’s budget gap.

“I don’t think we have enough money (in our budget) to expand our operations right now,” Whitten said.

If the legislation does pass, asked Council member Mike Jessen, R-4th, how should the Council be prepared to address organizations coming to the County asking for use or loan of the foundation money?

Whitten said that discussions between the Council and Commissioners will be required to address those concerns.

Insurance, animal shelter

In point person reports, which are now addressed at each Council meeting, Biggs said the Commissioners voted last week on adopting a reference-based option health insurance plan that will provide a savings for the County.

“I wish it well. I hope it works. It’s moving forward,” Biggs said.

How much of a savings will be something only time will tell. The Council approved the Commissioner’s employee insurance budget at $9 million this year when the costs in 2014 were over $12 million.

“The success will be how close it will get to that $9 million,” Jessen commented.

Meanwhile, Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, said he and Conover will be meeting with Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, this week to continue discussing plans about the new animal shelter building whose location is planned near the Expo Center on Ind. 49.


Posted 2/26/2015




Search This Site:

Custom Search