Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Newest County Council member gets educated on animal control costs

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Council member Andy Bozak is getting his feet wet as the new first district representative and held his first town hall meeting at the Thomas Library on Wednesday.

“I’m doing this to get more input. You got to get out there if you want to help your community,” Bozak told the audience.

The meeting brought out some residents and a few officials including Burns Harbor Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan, County Recorder Jon Miller, County Plan Commission President and former County Council member Bob Poparad and Chesterton Town Council member Emerson DeLaney.

Once Bozak opened the meeting take questions, DeLaney asked about how the County plans to fund its new Animal Shelter. He said he agrees with the County’s decision to build a new facility as “it is long overdue,” but brought up his frustration about the way the County charges fees to municipalities for animal control.

The Animal Shelter will be paid with tax dollars, adoption fees and fees collected from municipalities, Poparad answered as he was on the County Council when the Shelter’s 2017 budget was approved last fall.

The County Commissioners in 2015 approved an ordinance revamping its animal control procedures. That included the fee charged to municipalities that was determined based on the number of calls to animal control from 2010-2014.

Chesterton had been paying its animal control fee for years while other municipalities were said to have not been, Emerson said.

The fee had been $6,076, but when the County came to Chesterton Town Council to present the new contract, they said the costs would now be $31,120. That was a correction from the first estimate that the Town was going to pay only $3,120. Porter County Sheriff Chief Deputy Jeff Biggs apologized then for the initial mistake.

The cost is Chesterton’s 7.8 percent share of the County’s $400,000 projected animal control costs, half of which will go to maintain the Sheriff Police’s Animal Control and half for the County Animal Shelter.

DeLaney said he didn’t like the County saying they wouldn’t come get the animals if the fee isn’t paid. Poparad added that he believes the County is not obligated to pick up animals but they are required by law to have an animal control facility.

As for basing the fee on phone calls, DeLaney said he would like to see the fee based on a more equal criteria, possibly by population, even if that means a slight increase in taxes, $3 maybe, for residents.

“It’s a very contentious topic on my part,” DeLaney said. “I’m trying not to cause a problem but I’d like to see a solution on a level playing field.”

Bozak said that he was not in office at the time the County Commissioners made the changes but told DeLaney he would look into his concern.

“I will follow up with you on that,” he said.

On Andy

Bozak, a former Burns Harbor Town Councilman, was elected to the County Council by a Republican caucus in January to take Jim Biggs’ seat after Biggs resigned to assume the office of County Commissioner for the North District.

Bozak shared that he is representing the County Council on the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board and was also appointed to the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. He is the Council liaison for the County Courts, the Juvenile Detention Center, Juvenile Probation, the County Print Shop and the Expo Center.

He also expressed enthusiasm for being part of the board for the Porter County Government Nonprofit Charitable Foundation that is earning returns on the $132 million investment of the principal from the sale of Porter Memorial Hospital. The interest earned so far was about $6 million as of last quarter. “We’re going to do some great things for the county with this money,” he said.

Bozak asks that any resident with a concern contact him by phone, 219-508-7152, or email, abozak@porterco.org.

Bozak will hold his town hall discussion meetings on a quarterly basis.

 

 

Posted 3/3/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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