Chesterton Tribune

Porter County holds first hearing on 2012 budget

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BY DOUG ELISH

The first public step in creating the 2012 budget for Porter County took place in just a few smooth minutes Monday night.

The remainder of the process is unlikely to be as easy.

The County Council held the required first public hearing on the estimated $46.4 million budget, up about $6 million from this year, with the only public comments coming from animal shelter volunteers. The shelter’s request for an additional $33,000 in funding over this year is partially to hire a master planner to help the ailing facility. “There are firms out there who can give us input and bring us into the 21st century,” shelter volunteer Julie Sausman said.

Any measures to improve the shelter will be strongly considered, councilman Jim Biggs said. The first step the council took was to push back the second reading of the shelter budget from next week to Oct. 3 to give it more time to gather information. The shelter has become a priority for council president Dan Whitten as he has made several impassioned pleas for changes after seeing what he has labeled “government sponsored animal cruelty” during a visit to the aging building this summer.

“We have to approach this like we’ve never approached it before,” he said. “We have to figure out where we need to go.”

New shelter director Kristina Montgomery also said she plans to aggressively expand the shelter’s donation fund.

Aside from the discussion on the shelter, the county auditor simply laid out the proposed expenditures for next year. Most of the figures closely resemble the current budget’s numbers, but there will be plenty of discussion in the series of meeting scheduled to finalize the budget.

The areas receiving the most discussion are likely to be the E911 budget and the ambulance service tax subsidy, which has an expiring contract in December.

The next step in the budgeting process is a series of four meetings breaking out specific aspects of the budget for discussion. The first of those will take place on Thursday with the rest of the dates being Sept. 22, Oct. 3 and Oct. 11.

The final reading of the finalized 2012 budget will be held Thursday, Oct. 13.

A legal notice detailing the county’s proposed budget appeared in the Chesterton Tribune on Friday, September 2 and Friday, September 9. It can be found at: http://chestertontribune.com/Legal%20Notices/PC%20BUDGET%20(2).pdf

 

Posted 9/13/2011