Lake County Council take steps for funding jail improvements
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent December 11, 2012 5:16PM
Updated: January 13, 2013 11:08AM
CROWN POINT— Officials took the final steps to authorize the $20 million Lake County will borrow in 2013 for mandated jail improvements and to shore up the general fund, then took the first steps to establish the borrowing committee that will keep watch on how those dollars are spent.
The Lake County Council on Tuesday approved in 4-1 votes amendments to ordinances appropriating the $5 million that will be used to replenish the operating fund and the $10 million for expected capital expenses so that any request for the money must be approved by the County Council before the auditor may cut a check. Similar wording already was included in the $5 million bond ordinance for the jail improvements.
Councilman Daniel Dernulc, R-Highland, voted against the measure. Council President Jerome Prince was absent. Councilman-elect Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, has not yet been sworn to the seat vacated by newly elected State Rep. Rick Niemeyer.
Ray Szarmach, council attorney, said officials looking to use money from the funds created to disburse the revenues will have to go to a new borrowing committee to plead their cases.
Money will be divided into four funds created Tuesday: Lake County Jail Construction Fund, Operating Fund, Reimbursement Fund and Construction Fund. A specific set of criteria must be met for the request to be considered before the committee, whose members will then make a recommendation to the council on whether to grant the request.
“Every request has to come here. Every request has to be voted on by the common council,” Szarmach said.
As part of their actions council members approved the first reading of the draft ordinance creating the borrowing committee. The ordinance establishes the criteria for borrowing.
For consideration there must be a need for the project or operating costs. There must be adequate funding in place at time of the request, which must contain a sustainable plan to cover the cost of the request in 2014.
Requests from the Jail Construction Fund, eimbursement Fund and Construction Fund must be capital improvements.
Szarmach said after officials review the document they may make amendments prior to the second reading.