Porter Council warns that budget changes are coming
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent September 17, 2012 11:08PM
Updated: October 19, 2012 6:13AM
VALPARAISO — This is the message the Porter County Council has for departments as they go through the budget process:
Expect changes, because they’re coming.
“We cannot budget for a shortfall,” Council President Dan Whitten, D-At-large, said at the start of Monday’s budget hearing.
While the Porter County Board of Commissioners has offered up to $2 million in unallocated County Economic Development Income Tax funds to help the budget situation, Whitten said he didn’t expect to throw those dollars into the mix, because that would create both long-term and short-term problems.
He noted that some department budgets remained the same from last year, others had minor increases, and others had requests for increases in staff and/or salaries.
“If you don’t want to budget a shortfall, you are going to have to go back and trim some of the fat,” he said.
The county is expecting a lower assessed valuation, increased costs for Enhanced 911, growing insurance fees, and the expense of opening the third pod at the Porter County Jail and beefing up medical care for inmates, said Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st District.
“We’re really looking at addressing a $6 million hole, when you add everything up,” he said, adding the county needs to determine what to handle initially and decide on a plan for the rest.
Whitten agreed the county needs a long-term plan to address the county’s budget challenges, as well as any anticipated revenue.
Additionally, Ken Blaney, interim director of the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds, reported his budget will be substantially lower than last year’s. The previous budget was not realistic and he went through it line by line, he added.
Serving as interim director for less than a month, Blaney said he’s already brought the facility’s ledger up to date. It had not been updated in a year and a half.