Rainy day funds help pay for E-911 computer system
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent October 16, 2013 5:16PM
Updated: November 18, 2013 7:41AM
VALPARAISO — John Jokantas admitted he really didn’t want to be before the Porter County Board of Commissioners asking for more money.
But the E-911 director did so anyway, requesting $236,825 to come out of his department’s Rainy Day Fund, for a countywide mobile data computer system. Commissioners approved the request Tuesday.
The current system runs through all of the police vehicles in the county and almost all of the fire trucks. While it’s had some updates, the system hasn’t had a full upgrade.
“This takes us to the next step, and also helps out some departments,” he said, adding the current system can’t be used on tablet computers.
Jokantas said he didn’t want the funds to come out of hospital interest money, because he’s dipped into that so much already. Because the commissioners offered $800,000 in county economic development income tax funds for his department in 2014, Jokantas said he would have enough money in the Rainy Day Fund to pay for the computer system.
The Rainy Day Fund, which accumulated from surplus in past years, has $1.2 million in it now, but no additional money is going into the fund. It’s expected to be depleted by the end of 2014.
E-911 also receives funding from a surcharge on phone lines, and some money from the county’s general fund. Figuring out how to pay for the service has been a challenge for county officials as the Rainy Day Fund nears its end.
Jokantas wanted to use surcharge fund money for the computer upgrade but officials downstate told him the purchase doesn’t qualify. He can, however, use surcharge funds to cover overtime costs.
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, asked if the upgrade was absolutely necessary now.
It will be by February with other system improvements, Jokantas said; he added that upgrading the system now saves the county $200,000 over waiting until after the first of next year.
“We’re trying to catch up and I understand I’ve come here before and asked for a lot of money in the past year and a half,” Jokantas said.
In that time frame, Jokantas has asked for and received $2.1 million in hospital interest proceeds.
That included $999,000 for a radio system for the county’s fire departments; $907,000 for radio console software; and $206,000 for priority dispatch call answering software.