Chesterton Tribune



State rules in favor of Commissioners' new CCD property tax rate

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Porter County Government’s Cumulative Capital Development received approval from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to reset its rate to a maximum of .0233 cents per $100 of assessed valuation as approved by the Board of County Commissioners this summer.

The action to raise the rate was challenged in late August when a petition of remonstration acquired the minimum number of signatures. A public remonstration hearing was held, where a few residents expressed views that the County should stay within its current budget.

On Thursdays, Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said the DLGF ruled in favor of the Commissioners. He had said that with the County paying off its bonds for the juvenile center, “the impact on the taxpayers should be negligible” increasing the rate by just four tenths of a cent.

Also, Evans told those at the meeting that the Indiana Public Access Counselor’s office has ruled against a public access request for the Commissioners to release the results of a human resources audit.

Evans said since the audit report deals with personnel issues that are for the Commissioners’ consideration, and state law does allow the information to be withheld.

The Commissioners have included the creation of an HR department in their proposed 2015 budget which the County Council will be reviewing after its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Health Department fees

In other business, County Health Board attorney David Hollenbeck asked the Commissioners to modify a section of the fee structure approved last year for food retail establishments across the County.

The new fees have done what they were intended to do by sustaining the Health Department’s inspection budget without the use of taxpayer money. The board recommended, however, that the $300 charge for a partial food service establishment permit would more congenial at half its amount, $150, per year, Hollenbeck said.

A second recommendation by the Health Board was to set the administration fee on adult immunizations and tuberculosis screenings at up to $25. The current maximum fee, which was last updated in 2000, is $10, Hollenbeck said.

The need for the change was seen when there was a gap in funds stemming from billing issues as health insurance companies are not paying the full amount for the vaccinations.

The recommendations met unanimous agreement from the Commissioners on first reading. Second reading will be at the Commissioners’ next meeting, which has been moved to Wednesday, Nov. 5 because of the General Elections.

Appointments TBA

Evans said his board has vetted applications for the new Stormwater Management Board and will continue to do so for the next month or so.

“We’re trying to get the right people and its taking a lot more time,” he said.

In a related matter, the Commissioners announced they are extending the application deadline for the Shared Ethics Commission appointment another 30 days and have also opened a 30-day application process for appointments to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA).

The appointments will be made at the Commissioner’s Dec. 16 meeting.

From the audience, residents Herb and Charlotte Read of Liberty Twp. asked when the public hearings for the proposed fees by the Stormwater Management Board will be.

Evans said Umbaugh and Associates is currently working on a fee structure that the Stormwater board will take to the County Council. The Council will hold the official public hearing on the proposal as it has the ultimate say in approving the fees.

The public will also be welcome to speak at the upcoming Stormwater Management Board meetings but a formal public hearing will not be held there, Evans said.

Political signs

They may be appealing to some, but Evans said having too many political signs popping up all over like weeds in the unincorporated parts of the county is “really something else.”

The county’s current ordinance permits the signs to be staked in the ground up to 60 days before Election Day, Evans said, while most municipalities only allow them for 30 days.

“We’ve cluttered the whole countryside with them. (Sixty days) is plenty of time to have these things out there,” he said.

Evans said the Commissioners will entertain an ordinance amending the County’s policy to shorten the window of political signs to 30 days at the Nov. 5 meeting.

Other business:

-- The Commissioners released $117,053 to the Porter County Substance Abuse Council that will be given out as grants to help the County fight drug problems.

Fees from every DUI conviction and additional funds from the federal drug interdiction agency are pooled into the County coffers each year and made available to the Substance Abuse Council’s grant selection committee.

This year’s collection amount was less than last year’s total of $188,745.

-- The County Council’s administrative assistant, Michelle Lesniewski, will be switching to the Commissioners’ office to be their new administrative assistant at the end of the month.

-- Out of the Porter County Jail’s rainy day fund, the Commissioners agreed to purchase a replacement stove and oven for $11,812 and a new water softener system for $44,900. Sheriff David Lain said the purchases will yield some cost savings as it has been “extremely expensive” to maintain the systems there now.

-- After bids came in too high for the new sewer screening at the Jail, the Commissioners will put the project to bid a second time.


Posted 10/24/2014




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