Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Council finds $300,000 to fund new jail medical services for the year

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Although the Porter County Council still has to determine how it will find the $1 million necessary to fulfill a contract with Correctional Care Solutions to provide medical services to inmates at the county jail each year, the Council found a temporary solution at its meeting Tuesday night to carry it through 2014.

The council’s financial and budget specialist Vicki Urbanik reported that approximately $375,000 has been “untouched” in the Jail’s grocery fund that could be transferred to the jail’s medical-hospital line item. With a 5-0 vote, the Council approved the transfer of $300,000 from the grocery fund.

Council President Bob Poparad, D-At Large, told Sheriff David Lain that that would give him roughly $100,000 each for the next three months and that he can confer with the County Board of Commissioners on further funds available in its budgets to finish the year.

The Commissioners earlier this month accepted the contract with CCS with a yearly price tag of $1,299,000 and said they would work with the Council on a funding mechanism. Lain had said then that with what has been in his budget before, the contract leaves a $1 million gap to fill.

Prior to the Council’s vote, member Jim Biggs, R-1st, said that residents who have been following the jail medical issue in the newspapers should know that the County is obligated constitutionally to provide those services.

“We have no other choice but to do this,” he said.

However, he said he did not like the fact that Commissioners signed the contract without funding committed, saying it set “a dangerous precedent,” especially since the Council “had to turn over every rock” to find the $375,000 in the grocery fund.

Biggs expressed the same concern later when the Council approved $75,000 for the County’s new website design, when it is already paying $18,000 a year for someone to monitor the County’s Facebook pages.

Lain said that reaching a decision on CCS had been “a long process” involving many officials and he would help in the process of footing the bill where he could.

Separate from the $300,000 transfer, the Council also approved 5-0 another transfer of $67,838 from unused salaries due to positions being eliminated with the onset of the new medical contract. The transfer is to help pay the July CCS monthly service costs.

Also, the Council unanimously approved an additional appropriation of $41,791 to cover budget cuts made last year to the Sheriff’s maintenance agreement with Tiburon. The company provides software for the Sheriff’s Department to manage its record filing. The contract had been funded out of one of the Commissioners’ budgets which was used up this year for other projects, Lain said.

Lain will talk about getting the contract funded for next year at the Council’s budget hearings this fall.

In other business, the Council tabled a transfer requested to Emergency Medical Services for $76,762 to cover purchase of cots and fasteners for ambulances as the Council would first like to find out if the EMS ambulances are rightfully owned by the County.

The County in 2011 continued its contract ambulance services with Porter Hospital EMS which is now privately owned.




Posted 7/25/2013