Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Council passes 2018 budgets with salary raises

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The Porter County Council succeeded in meeting its goal of keeping the 2018 general fund budget for Porter County Government under $39.5 million during final reading Thursday.

The Council voted 7-0 in approval of all budgets to be funded by the tax levy next year as well as non-levied budgets. The largest was the County’s general fund whose final total is $39,457,075.

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik told the Council at the start of the budgeting process in mid-September that the state’s growth quotient would put the general fund levy at around $39.5 million. Starting out, departments requested a total of $45 million in the general fund which the Council was able to size down throughout subsequent budget meetings over the past month by supporting some costs with interest made off the investment of the sale proceeds from Porter Memorial Hospital.

For next year, $550,000 is budgeted in the County’s hospital interest budget and $4.5 million is budgeted for Porter County Government Nonprofit Community Foundation Fund.

Salaries and new staffing

Meanwhile, the Council also voted 7-0 to adopt the County employee salary ordinance which will give an across-the-board salary increase of four percent to all full-time employees who are not already receiving special raises. Urbanik has estimated that the extra cost in salaries would be approximately $800,000.

Part of the funds to give raises include about a $500,000 in savings in health insurance costs out of the Commissioners’ budget.

A few new positions will be added including a patrol officer for the Sheriff’s Police, a jail officer and a jail program director.

Council Vice-president Dan Whitten, D-at large, commended the effort of government officials to keep the County operating in the black as he motioned to adopt the budgets.

“It looks like it’s a win-win for everyone. We’re taking care of the employees, we are building some stuff and we’re solvent. It’s a good time to be a Porter County resident,” Whitten said.

New radios

Earlier in the meeting, the Council agreed 7-0 to accept the Commissioners’ request to take $1.2 million out of hospital sale proceeds to purchase the remaining emergency radio equipment for the 911 Communications Center, Highway Department, Sheriff’s Department, Jail, Emergency Management Agency and township fire departments to upgrade to an 800-megahertz system.

The request was tabled from the Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday because for officials to allocate funds from the hospital sale principal, a full 7-0 vote is required.

Likewise, the Council voted 7-0 to purchase new motor vehicles for the combined 911 and EMA departments totaling $150,000 and to set the 911 Deputy Director’s salary at $70,000 with $15,000 to cover the rest of this year. Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, said his board is ready to hire someone for that position.



Posted 10/27/2017




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