Starting Monday, Sept. 13, the Porter County Council will begin the process
of approving county budgets for next year.
The public hearing and First Reading for the proposed 2011 Porter County
Budget will take place Monday, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioner’s
Chambers (Room 205) at the Porter County Administration Building.
Second readings will begin on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m.
Porter County Council members include: Council President Dan Whitten, D-at
large, Vice-President Karen Conover, R-3rd, district representatives Robert
Poparad, D-1st, Rita Stevenson, D-2nd, Marylyn Johns, D-4th, and other
at-large members Laura Blaney, D-at large, and Sylvia Graham, D-at large.
The council asked the county departments before the July 1 deadline to
submit the same budget as was approved last year. Any changes would need to
be mentioned in a letter explaining the adjustments.
Citing a troubled economy, the council closed the door last year on
across-the-board raises, and it is probable they will keep the purse strings
tight again this year.
Although most budgets equaled their previous amounts, a few departments
still are looking to the council for raises in their salaries for full and
Some raises, however, are required by the state such as the county’s law
enforcement agencies including the Porter County Sheriff’s Police. Steady
raises are in the Sheriff’s budget bringing it from $3,271,321 last year to
$3,349,340 this year.
Other state required raises pertain to the county jail and adult probation.
In another matter, the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors
Bureau have raised four full time employee salaries in their budget. Their
total full time salaries are proposed at $231,329 compared to $215,329 last
year. The salaries are not paid out of the county’s General Fund but instead
from the county innkeepers tax collected from lodging facilities.
Although complying with the council’s request of handing in the same budget
figures, Porter County Auditor James Kopp accompanied the budget with a
letter to the council asking to raise salaries for a few of his employees.
The largest raises requested go to executive deputy Alizabeth Bailey and GIS
Coordinator Chuck Miller, nearly $8,000 for both.
In his letter, Kopp explains and provides salary figures from other counties
in comparison with his employees. This year, Allen County paid the executive
deputy $73,609 compared to Bailey’s $42,254 and $65,439 for their GIS
Coordinator in comparison with Miller’s $36,734.
Kopp has also put in a request to raise the auditor’s salary from $55,024 to
$60,000 annually. The raise would benefit Kopp’s successor as he was
defeated in this year’s primary election.
The county’s Information Technology Services department is suggesting a
change from seven full-time employees to six. ITS Director Sharon Lippens in
a letter to the council said she would be able cut a systems support
position and a Document Imaging Clerk and replace the two roles with a
Server Administrator position.
The overall change will lower ITS’ full time salaries from $317,100 to
$297,100 for 2011.
The county recorder’s office is also looking to add a second deputy with a
salary of $29,652.
In other budget matters:
• Porter-Starke Services seeks $1,711,268 for 2011, up from last year’s
• Opportunity Enterprises is asking for $700,000, the same amount that was
given this year.
• The Family and Youth Services Bureau has slotted $300,000 for next year,
precisely doubling the amount that was approved for 2010.
• The Northern Indiana Regional Plan Commission’s is asking the county to
allocate $102,759. The money comes out of a separate County Economic
Development Income Tax fund.
in Hands of
One of the
biggest restructuring proposals involves two related boards, the election
board and voters registration.
board last July decided it would submit two budgets, one with changes and
one without, by a vote of 2-1.
Talks about the
change surfaced at a June meeting when the board members discussed adjusting
the way the county handles elections to be more in-tune with what is
outlined in the state legislation.
member and County Clerk Pamela Mishler Fish said the state code allows the
election board to hire staff to perform its functions. She said there is no
mention in the code that allows for the voters registration office to put on
the elections, which essentially is how the county has operated in the past.
Republican member Patrick Lyp outvoted board president and Democratic
representative J.J. Stankiewicz in submitting budgets outlining the change
at the July meeting. The decision now rests with the council.
Fish said the
changes are “not anything major.” She said the current two voters
registration directors, Republican Sundae Kubacki and Democrat Kathy
Kozuszek, would change their titles to election administrators if the change
registration budget also indicates the plan for removing hourly part-time
workers and have the work be done instead by two full-time deputies. The
total pay budgeted in voters registration would decrease from 2010’s figure
of $226,888 to $214,208.
election board budget would now carry salaries for Kubacki and Kozuszek,
increasing its full-time salary pay from $0 to $76,152.
Casting the sole
vote against the modifications, Stankiewicz said there have been no problems
with Porter County’s method of running elections and feels the change may be
unnecessary as the county may fall into a population range where special
legislation can be appropriate. “If the changes do take place, it will just
add another level of bureaucracy to it,” he said. “It will be interesting to
see what the state board is going to tell us after taking a second look at
the population change.”
the figures from this year’s census taken by the federal government should
be released within a few months and may match the population numbers of
Tippecanoe County who is one of the counties given power by the state to
utilize both boards in holding elections.