With a number of contentious issues on the docket for the coming 2012
budgetary hearings, the Porter County Council acknowledges some difficult
decisions and changes are going to be necessary.
Council president Dan Whitten said he going to make sure that the state of
animal control in the county is included in those discussions during
Tuesday’s meeting at the Hebron Community Center.
Recounting his mid-summer visits to the Porter County Animal Shelter where
he witnessed a faulty air conditioning system and a nearly unventilated room
with more than 80 cats in it, Whitten reiterated the conditions were “an
absolute atrocity” and “completely inexcusable.”
He expressed his desire for the council to at minimum take a greater role in
animal control, which is currently handled by the county commissioners.
Whitten called for a letter to be sent to the commissioners basically
demanding that a council member be part of the animal advisory boards that
are being created later this week.
“The council has been hands off with the shelter in the past, but that time
is over now,” Whitten said. “We need to start asking the tough questions. I
don’t want to be any part of government sanctioned animal cruelty.”
He and councilmembers Jim Polarek and Jim Bigggs also discussed the
possibility of the county government getting out of the animal shelter
“It’s a disgrace to Porter County residents to even drive past (the
shelter),” Polarek said.
The three said it might be more effective to leave the animal care to
professionals and get politicians out of the process completely. Biggs noted
that the county has gotten out of many specialty services, including the
hospital, and maybe this is another area that can be more effectively
managed by others.
“Maybe we should defer to the experts in this,” Biggs said. “We need to at
least look into it, so we can make the best decision.”
During the discussion, audience member Gale Carmona, who is the vice
president of the Independent Cat Society, said that local private groups and
non-profits are willing to work with the county. However, in the past their
overtures have been ignored or dismissed.
“I don’t want to put the blame on anybody, but we have tried to work with
the county,” Carmona said. “We all need to work together to do what’s best
for the animals.”
Council members seemed to believe there was a solution to this problem and
they had a desire to solve it as quickly and effectively as possible.
“There are a lot of tough and complex issues facing the county right now,”
Biggs said. “This isn’t one of them. This is a fixable problem.”
appropriations portion of the meeting, the council put an additional $6,391
into CEDIT Project #35 to cover the cost of tax penalties to the IRS and the
Indiana Department of Revenue. Councilmember Sylvia Graham expressed concern
that the process of settling those debts has been like “a dog chasing its
tail,” but county auditor Robert Wichinski said the last payment should
finally settle the issue.
The other votes
by the council were all unanimous with most being simply transfers of funds.