The Porter County Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, April
10, to reaffirm the holds they put on the County Auditor’s non-reverting
At its March 11 meeting, the Council split 5-2 to transfer $606,710 in the
fund to an unallocated fund which Auditor Robert Wichlinski said does not
The squelch on the fund happened as the majority of Council members argued
they wished to hear from the auditor how he would spend the money, for the
sake of accountability. Council President Robert Poparad, D-At Large, had
told Wichlinski that he could reacquire the money by asking the Council for
Voting to transfer the funds to unallocated on March 11 were Poparad, and
members Dan Whitten, D-At Large, Sylvia Graham, D-At Large, Karen Conover,
R-3rd, and Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd. Members voting against the measure were Jim
Biggs, R-1st, and Jim Polarek, R-4th.
“I don’t think the auditor can spend that money. We, as the county’s fiscal
body, made a vote,” said Whitten.
The non-reverting fund was set up to help fund a total quality management
program that was coordinated with the assessor, treasurer, and recorder’s
offices to expedite tax collection processes and recoup homestead credit
At the end of the Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Poparad asked
Wichlinski’s chief of staff Alizabeth Bailey about reports that the
auditor’s office spent $57,000 since the March 11 vote.
Bailey said that the money was used to pay outstanding bills related to the
funds. She said the office was “not going against (the Council’s) request”
because the transfer of funds was “not done properly.”
Wichlinski was present at the start of the meeting Tuesday but had to leave
Wichlinski said after the meeting on March 11 that there was no such thing
as an unallocated, non-reverting fund according to the state statute and
that he would check with the Department of Local Government Finance and the
State Board of Accounts to see if the Council’s action was feasible.
Wichlinski said the proper thing for the Council to do would be to reduce
the allocation of money to $0, which would need to be properly advertised,
rather than transfer the money to a non-existing unallocated fund.
Since then, the auditor’s attorney met with the Council’s attorney Scott
McClure over the issue.
McClure said that in his opinion the Council’s vote holds up because there
is nothing in the state’s statute about de-approving the money. When there
is nothing in statute to guide the County, the County can decide it has the
ability to use home rule, he said.
As of now, McClure said he has not received notification from the DLGF or
the SBA that the action was improper.
“I didn’t see any letter (from the state) saying we were doing anything
illegally,” he said.
Poparad and Whitten said they were annoyed by the fact the auditor was not
present for the entire meeting.
Poparad said he did not receive the records of how the fund has been handled
over the past two years that he asked Wichlinski to provide. Polarek said he
received the information two weeks ago.
Whitten then asked Poparad to schedule a meeting which will advertise the
reduction of the allocation of the auditor’s non-reverting fund to $0.
“Let’s do it again because we have a difference in legal opinion,” Whitten