Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Commissioners approve aerial photography bids for drainage study

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The recently formed drainage committee passed through another hoop Tuesday in beginning their first phase for a study to mediate and prevent drainage issues throughout Porter County.

Porter County Commissioners Robert Harper, D-Center, and Carole Knoblock, D-South, both approved a recommendation by the committee on Tuesday to sign a contract with GRW Inc., who will undertake GPS aerial mapping and topography using LIDAR technology to gather data for the drainage project. Absent from the commissioners’ meeting was Commissioner John Evans, R-North, who was not present to give his approval.

Drainage Project Manager Dave Burrus, who is also president of the county’s drainage board, said he hopes the contract between GRW and the county can be finalized in a matter of days, feeling that the month of March is “optimum” time for mapping photography. County Attorney Gwenn Rinkenberger said she will review the terms of the contract with GRW.

Burrus said the committee met last week to review bid submittals received by the Porter County Plan Commission at the Feb. 2 commissioners meeting. The committee narrowed their choices down to three firms: GRW, The Sidwell Company, and Kucera International. Burrus said all three firms met the committee’s qualifications, but pushed for GRW whose bid came in at $340, 900, significantly lower than the other two whose bids loomed around $500,000.

One qualification Burrus said the committee considered was if a firm can handle all the work without depending on sub-contractors and GRW fits that category. He said they also favored GRW due to work they have done locally.

Harper said the commissioners have approved $1,500,000 generated by the county economic development income tax to fund the drainage project. In November, the county signed contracts with firms DLZ and SEH to act as engineering consultants for the project whose combined bids yield a $206,000 price tag.

Burrus said now that the three engineering firms are in line, the drainage review committee will begin phase one of the drainage project which Burrus said will include engineering work and planning between the county and city municipalities. He also said the county plan commission may adopt improvement ordinances to head off some of the drainage woes.

A series of public meetings will also be held to solicit information and data on the areas needing attention which will be a component of the first phase, Burrus said. He expects the first phase of the project will take four to six months.

In the second phrase, the committee will use the data to decide which areas are priorities for providing drainage or solutions and begin the repair work in those areas.

Burrus said the aerial mapping will be done using one-foot contours, giving a sharper resolution than the previous mapping done by the U.S. Geological Department which used five-foot contours.

Harper said it was important for Burrus to alert the public through the media on matters regarding the drainage study project. He said this is the first time the county has taken on a project of this magnitude.

“I think a public understanding of this undertaking is very important,” said Harper.

Harper said the committee will also need the county council to back the project. He said he plans to go before the council with Burrus at their meeting next week on Feb. 23.

Burrus also gave an updated list of drainage review committee members, which includes various county officials and city engineers. Along with Burrus, the committee members are: County Plan Commission Director Bob Thompson, County Building Inspector Mike Haller, County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke, County Engineer Ray Riddell, Assistant Highway Superintendent David James, Portage City Engineer Craig Hendrix, Valparaiso City Engineers David Pilz and Will Rose, Chesterton Town Engineers Mark O’Dell and Jennifer Gadzala, Porter Town Engineer Matt Keiser, and Harvey Nix of U.S. Soil & Water.

County Web site will allow

free access to records

The Porter County Government Web site will be experiencing a few upgrades that will provide unlimited access to tax bills for county taxpayers.

The commissioners approved three proposals made by Sharon Lippens, director of Porter County’s Information Technologies and Service Department. The county will sign a $14,600 contract with ATOS Origin systems that will replace the A & E system which charged taxpayers, appraisal and mortgage firms if they viewed more than 30 tax records.

Lippens said the system was developed in Allen County by their IT Department which includes contract employees from Atos. The contract calls for taking the source code used in Allen County to be “tweaked” to make it work with Porter County’s Low Software System.

Lippens said the contract calls for the system to be installed by April 1 and will allow taxpayers to view their tax records as many times as they wish without being charged by the county. The feature will be available in time for the first installment of the 2010 property tax bills.

The ITS Department will also set up a feature that will allow taxpayers to pay their bills online by either check or credit card, Lippens said, but the feature may not be available before the tax bills are mailed out.

The commissioners also approved Lippens’ request to sign a contract with FBN Indiana that will give the county administration building high speed internet capabilities.

In her last request, Lippens also asked for the commissioners to approve a contract with Crowe Horwath for $7,250 to initiate Phase II of software certification to test the tax billing and the assessor softwares. She said the state requires the assessment by a third party to make sure county software systems Low and Xsoft are meeting certain levels of compatibility.

Lippens said she also received a lower bid of $6,000 from another software firm, but said she recommends Crowe Horwath because they are more familiar with Porter County’s taxing systems.

Other Approvals

•The commissioners approved venue agreements for the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor’s Commission. The PCCRVC will give $17,820 each to the Porter County Expo Center, the Old Jail Museum, and the Memorial Opera House.

•Porter County Auditor Jim Kopp asked the commissioners to approve a privacy agreement which corresponds to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The agreement protects the confidentiality of county employees who are covered by Anton Insurance and Stewart C. Miller. Rinkenberger said this is an updated version of a contract the county signed two years ago.

•Purchases of cameras and police vehicles were approved for the Porter County Sheriff’s Department. The commissioners agreed to several service contracts including a waste disposal agreement, an emergency generator maintenance agreement with Cummings Diesel, and a food service agreement with Canteen Correctional Services.

• The commissioners approved a letter of agreement with Tyler Technologies for Portage Township Assessor Maureen “Moe” Wendrickx. The agreement will allow Tyler software to assess commercial and industrial properties within Portage Township.

 

Posted 2/17/2010

 

 

 

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