Chesterton Tribune

 

 

County wants Enbridge to share costs of pipeline project security

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said he would like to find out, at the behest of many residents, if Enbridge Energy intends to pay for the fuel costs associated with Sheriff’s Department vehicles securing the work sites as Enbridge lays its new pipeline.

Evans asked County Sheriff David Lain during Tuesday’s County Commissioner meeting if he knew if Enbridge would reimburse those costs to the County.

“We should receive some kind of stipend for the fuel,” Evans said.

Lain said that Enbridge is paying off-duty officers out of pocket for security so no public tax dollars are being spent in that regard. He said he has not heard officially if there will be some form of compensation for the fuel but said he will look into the matter.

Lain told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that someone from his department will be negotiating with Enbridge about compensation. He said he is confident an agreement will be made.

ACA costs hefty

In other business, the Commissioners were surprised to hear from Mike Anton of Anton Insurance that they can expect a bill of $81,000 in November for a “reinsurance fee” mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

Anton said that there is a fee of $63 per person in a group insurance plan that will go to a “national pot” that insurance providers can draw from to cover high risk individuals with pre-existing conditions. The County would also have to pay the fee again in 2015 and 2016, he said.

“Can we do an executive order like the President and exempt ourselves?” Evans asked.

“No,” replied Anton, but he suggested the Commissioners talk to their congressman.

Anton also told the Commissioners they need to pay another cost associated with ACA but this one not quite as large.

The ACA is also collecting a fee for research, which will be $1 per individual on a group plan, totaling $1,281 for the County, assessed for the number of participants on the County’s plan for 2013.

The research fee will double this year, Anton said.

The Commissioners voted 3-0 to pay the $1,281 fee.

They also paid out $2,550 for fees related to the former smoking cessation program.

Leigh Westergren, employee benefits specialist for Anton Insurance, said a new smoking cessation plan is being developed by Porter Health with whom the County has contracted for clinical services and wellness programs.

Jail B-Pod

In the ongoing effort to open the third pod of the County Jail, Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana reported that there are further costs regarding work needed to improve the plumbing such as replacing valves and other equipment.

He recommended a not to exceed limit of $68,326 which the Commissioners approved 3-0 and will be paid on time and material rather than in a lump sum. The work is currently being done by Bergland Construction of Chesterton.

Improvements to the B-Pod are being funded with the money received from the refinancing of the Jail Building Bonds in 2012 and not out of the general fund budget.

In another Sheriff-related matter, Lain and PCSP Capt. George Gonzalez discussed a plan to purchase three new SUV’s and six new Ford Interceptor vehicles from Lakeshore Ford, which would cost roughly $325,000.

Evans voiced his support for the request and added that the Sheriff Department is not expanding their fleet but replacing older cars. Some of those older cars can be salvaged and used by other agencies in the county as a cost savings measure, he said.

Highway Dept. cheered

At the start of the meeting, Evans gave gratitude to the County Highway Department for its hard work in the “winter that never quits” which saw several more inches of snow dumped on the county on Monday.

Highway Supervisor Al Hoagland joked that this is like an episode of TV’s “The Walking Dead” and said crews have been working 11 weekends in a row getting the roads cleared.

In other matters Tuesday:

-- The Commissioners named David Fagan, a Chicago Union official and former Portage City Council member, to the Gary/Chicago Airport Board.

-- The Commissioners approved the purchase of two new commercial strength washing machines for the Juvenile Detention Center for $1,474. Other expenditures include repairs for the heating system of the Memorial Opera House and the A/C maintenance for IT server rooms and County print shop, both around $3,000.

-- Plan Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson took under advisement three submissions for the Request for Quotes for the construction/inspection of the Calumet Trail restoration project. The firms include Hasse Construction of Hammond, SEH of Munster, and Primera of Chicago. Thompson said the goal is to let bids for construction in July once the Indiana Department of Transportation has approved the plans. The work will be funded with the approximately $2 million the County received from a federal transportation grant.

 

 

Posted 2/19/2014