The Porter County Board of Commissioners took action Tuesday to revise the
ordinance which created the County’s Redevelopment Commission with statutory
powers last summer.
The Commissioners voted 3-0 to change the language in the ordinance to state
that the County Council’s citizen appointment has to be a non-elected
official and that the Council President’s seat, or his designee, must hold
the seat for at least a year.
Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said that state statute allows
for the Council to appoint either its president or a designee to one seat on
the Redevelopment Commission and one citizen appointee. But Evans expressed
displeasure at how frequently the designees have changed and that the
citizen appointment is filled by a current Council member.
“This board is making some pretty big decisions and there needs to be some
continuity,” Evans said.
The RDC is the body with statutory authority to propose tax increment
finance allocation areas. Currently the County RDC is in the process of
drawing a TIF area along the U.S. 6 corridor and the area surrounding Porter
When the RDC was formed last summer, the council’s seat was to be filled by
then-Council President Dan Whitten, D-At Large, who designated fellow
Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, to the seat. Rivas had not been able to
attend the meetings consecutively and, as the new Council president,
designated Council member Sylvia Graham, D-At Large, for the seat just this
Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, was voted as the Council’s citizen
appointment in July by a split vote. Council attorney Scott McClure advised
the Council then that Polarek is a resident of Porter County and therefore
complies with statute as a citizen appointment.
However, according to the Commissioners’ new amendment Tuesday, the
appointment must be a non-elected official which means Polarek will have to
No changes were made to the County Commissioners’ appointments. RDC member
John Shepherd will remain as the Commissioner President’s designee and Dave
Burrus and Ric Frataccia are the citizen appointments.
Rivas, who was not at the Commissioners’ meeting, later told the
Chesterton Tribune he will reevaluate the Council appointments but said
he does not understand why the changes are being made since the state
statute does not forbid elected officials serving in the citizen seat. The
only requirement is that the seat holder be a resident of the county, he
In Rivas’ view, a redevelopment commission should be made up of as many
elected officials as possible for the purpose of accountability.
“That is a board that could possibly oversee millions and millions of
taxpayer dollars,” said Rivas. “The County has elections so that those who
are responsible for taxpayer dollars are held accountable every two or four
Rivas said he’d prefer if the Redevelopment Commission met in the evening
when it is more convenient for members of the public to attend. The RDC
currently meets on the third Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m.
In other action, the Commissioners created a new development committee for
the County’s MS4 stormwater management program.
Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, said the committee is needed to
help the County Surveyor keep on schedule with MS4 projects. On the
committee will be one County Commissioner, the County Highway Supervisor or
a designee, a Commissioner citizen appointment, the County Parks
Superintendent, the County Surveyor, the president of the County Drainage
Board, a representative from County Soil and Water and the executive
director of the Plan Commission.
The Commissioners unanimously agreed to hire Richard Hudson to be the
coordinator of the MS4 program at a compensatory rate of $50 an hour.
MS4 is a federally mandated program that is regulated locally through the
Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Its main objectives include
improving water quality and educating the public on water protection.