Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Council wants answers from Commissioners on CEDIT spending

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

In the latest chapter in the 2013 Porter County budget hearings, the County Council on Tuesday began probing spending of funds raised by the economic development income tax, eventually coming to the conclusion CEDIT will have to play a larger role in the county’s finances.

CEDIT is allocated by the commissioners for an assortment of different uses, largely for road and highway projects, building touch-ups and repairs and drainage improvements. Some is used for miscellaneous tasks such as contracts for the county’s job cabinet and radio spots for the Animal Shelter.

“These are all little things but they do add up quickly,” said County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center.

New this year, the council set aside a night specifically to analyze each CEDIT project after several long and sometimes contentious discussions with the commissioners when the council was asked to reapprove monies that had been flat lined in the 2012 budget sessions.

Council members have set a hearing on the commissioners’ plans for CEDIT in order to get a better grasp of the county’s finances.

Adams, who was the only County Commissioner present, said her board can have a report to the council within a week. Consultants DLZ Indiana has agreed to make a PowerPoint presentation of what projects are being considered for the next three to five years, she said.

Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, said he would like the county to look at what its priorities are and then make judgments.

“We’re going to need some more information,” he said.

Meanwhile Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, said CEDIT could be shifted to help the county’s General Fund. Rivas said CEDIT could fill holes in the General Fund, which is used to pay for the daily operations of the county. The county is expected to see $1.7 million less revenue this year.

Fellow Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, said the challenges facing the Council are “very complex,” as the future remains uncertain and he said that a comprehensive financial plan by the commissioners would help the council know where to invest its monies.

Adams said the commissioners are interested in finding areas where the county can save money and are giving serious consideration to measures such as bonding against the hospital sale money to generate more revenue.

Last Thursday the commissioners pledged to make available $2 million in CEDIT to cover budget shortfalls. But Whitten said it doesn’t matter to him if the funds are CEDIT or not, as he sees it, it’s all money paid by the taxpayer.

“We ask ourselves is this money for the south, north or center districts? No, no, no. It’s all taxpayer money. They are all pots we have to fill and we have to figure out how to run government efficiently. That’s it. Done,” he said.

But the council is not done in regards to CEDIT. The Council will look closely at the projects again and hear further explanation from the county commissioners.

The council meets again next Monday at 5:30 p.m. when it will hold second readings on the 2013 budgets for the County Courts and County Prosecutor’s office, among others.

Valpo school budget

In other business, the Council approved 6-1 to hire Crowe Horwath of Indianapolis to consult on the council’s review of the Valparaiso School budget.

Compensation for services could cost as much as $10,000. But that agreement is only tentative.

The Council is waiting to hear on an effort by State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, to get an interpretation of the law that only the Valparaiso City Council would need to review the school budget. The ruling should come by Friday from the State Board of Accounts.

Voting against the hiring was Karen Conover, R-3rd.

The school budget had been scheduled for action on Sept. 25 but council members indicated it will likely be pushed back. Budgets are to be approved and submitted to the state by Nov. 1.

 

 

Posted 9/5/2012