Merrillville attorney Mitch Peters has confirmed that he filed documents
with the Indiana Court of Appeals last week supporting the Porter County
Councilís decision to appeal Jasper County Circuit Court Judge John Potterís
ruling last April that Porter County must remain a member of the Northwest
Indiana Regional Development Authority.
chosen by the council to represent them in the appeal process by a 5-2 vote
when the majority of the members decided to appeal the vote during a special
meeting on April 16.
brief was filed by Peters last Wednesday two days before the due date on
Sept. 10. The state now has a 30-day period to respond, but Peters told the
Chesterton Tribune Wednesday that it is likely they will extend the
specifies the councilís claim that the legislation creating the RDA was
special legislation and unconstitutional in the state of Indiana.
stated that the legislation creating the RDA in 2005 did not give the county
the option to withdraw from the agency and the membership is permanent.
Peters said he doesnít interpret it the same way that Potter did.
ďI believe based
on the reading of the statute and amendments that there is no prohibition
from withdrawing and that the county is entitled to properly withdraw,Ē said
Council members voted 4-3 to leave the RDA in April 2009, saying that the
agency is taking more money away from the county than what it is returning.
The county had paid the agency an annual membership fee of $3.5 million a
year out of a County Economic Development Income Tax fund.
ruled this year that the county must continue making payments to the RDA
even after the council voted 5-2 to appeal it.
members include: current council president Dan Whitten, D-at large, Rita
Stevenson, D-2nd, Laura Blaney, D-at large, Marylyn Johns, D-4th, and Sylvia
Graham, D-at large. Members who voted not to appeal were Robert Poparad,
D-1st and Karen Conover, R-3rd. Both also voted not to leave the RDA in 2009
along with former council member Mike Bucko.
hired Peters for a flat fee of $16,000 and will retain him all the way to
the Indiana Supreme Court if the case goes that far.
Peter said he
expects whichever side prevails at the appellate court, the other side will
appeal the decision which would then move the case to the Supreme Court.
have said they were disappointed in the councilís decision to appeal the
ruling but will continue to fund projects in Porter County like the Gateway
to the Dunes project in Porter.
In April, RDA
Executive Director Bill Hanna said Porter County had invested nearly $15.8
million in dues and was returned $17.3 million despite the councilís claim