Chesterton Tribune



Pitch for high speed rail to be heard by Porter County Council

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A request to join a pool of counties to help fund a study of a proposed high speed rail line from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, that would run through Porter County, will be presented to the Porter County Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

The Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissionersí Chambers of the County Administration Center, 155 Indiana Ave., in Valparaiso.

The request was first presented to the County Board of Commissioners in April by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association which said if the County could pay its fair share, it would be $20,000, added to the $50,000 that the City of Valparaiso has committed to. The rail line is expected to pass through Valparaiso, which will have a train stop.

A $1 million investment from the counties would be part of $2 million needed for an environmental impact study before engineering can begin.

The Commissioners took the request under advisement saying they would need time to find funding in their already tight budgets.

According the NIPRA, the construction of the roughly 300 mile route would create 26,000 new jobs across the three states -- Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. It would be a four hour ride starting in Chicago and ending in Ohio, with stops planned for Plymouth, Warsaw, Fort Wayne, Lima, and the Gary/Chicago Airport. The cars would travel at about 130 miles per hour, NIRPA said.

Regular meeting

The presentation Tuesday will follow a list of requests from department heads during the regular business portion of the meeting.

Despite being under a hiring freeze by the Council to try to get control of the General Fund budget, Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford will ask that the Council approve creation of a full-time legal assistant to help with the increase in workload and to fill in for staff members who are retiring. The additional appropriation requested is for $11,979 in salaries. The new employee would start on Aug. 18, according to the agenda.

Also, the County Auditorís Office will make a plea for $146,054 from the Auditorís non-reverting fund to pay invoices incurred by the Assessorís Office, which also uses the fund.

Other items include a $10,000 additional appropriation request in the Public Defender supplemental fund needed to cover legal services.

The Cumulative Bridge Fund, which is levied from outside of the general fund, is requesting an additional $75,000 to meet the full-time hourly payroll.

The Dunes Kankakee Grant Fund asks that the Council approve $35,000 be paid for construction inspection of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail.

The Recorderís Perpetuation fund, also not a general fund item, seeks an $8,700 appropriation for the installation of an additional work station with a desk and chair.

The Parks Department will ask the Council to approve $58,700 be spent from a reimbursable grant it received from the Lake Michigan Coastal Fund for the restoration and rehabilitation of the pond and prairie at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

The Board of Commissioners will request that $2,146 be reduced in its office supply budget and that the money be transferred to Soil and Waterís other supply budget to pay for educational program supplies.

The County Council will do an annual compliance review of Family Express Corporation in its statement of benefits for a tax abatement.

In another matter, the Council will hear from the Countyís ITS Director Sharon Lippens about a new state law enacted and how it will affect the print shop located in the County Administration Building.


Posted 7/21/2014