Porter County Council wrestles with salary adjustments
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent January 22, 2013 9:38PM
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:26AM
VALPARAISO — The pay of government officials and creation of a new position dominated Tuesday’s Porter County Council meeting.
The new position is for a director of nursing and quality assurance at Porter County Jail. It begins on Monday and pays a $71,500 salary.
The two other salary positions that were tabled until next meeting were the county coroner, who makes $25,500 annually, and Portage Township Assessor Millie Arocho, who makes $36,991 annually without a per diem rate increase.
Her chief deputy makes $38,500, and Council Member Sylvia Graham said the council has been trying for about 18 months to rectify that.
Arochoa said with the per diem, she makes a few hundred dollars more but would like a solid salary.
Council member Jim Biggs, the coroner liaison, said the county already lost the last coroner because she couldn’t survive on the pay.
The coroner is paid the least of all department heads, Biggs said.
Porter County Sheriff David Lain said the new nursing position was recommended by the National Institute of Corrections and will oversee whatever company ends up handling medical services at Porter County Jail.
The jail will add mental health treatments to medical services, and the director of nursing will oversee the contractor, which is a slip of the current system where the contractor oversees county employees.
The director’s salary will save money in the long haul, Lain said
All county medical personnel will probably be absorbed by the new contractor, he said.
Council members voiced concerns about the Porter County Redevelopment Commission considering making the Porter Hospital and surrounding area a Tax Increment Financing district, which would collect all tax increases from improvements into the account of one designated governmental body.
Council member Dan Whitten said, “We are dependant on commercial growth, and if we do not have that, we’re going to be pushing this county to another income tax.”
Biggs said it didn’t make sense for the county to create TIF districts for borrowing money because it is sitting on $180 million from the hospital sale and companies want to build around the new hospital at U.S. 6 and Indiana 49.
He thinks the council should have final say on whether or not a TIF is created.
The council talked about the eventual video recording of their meetings to put on the new county website in July.
IT Director Sharon Lippens said her department purchased a dome camera that will cover all people at the dais and whomever is talking at the desk in front of the dais, but the department is testing it and trying to figure out how long to keep the recordings online.
Government meetings won’t be streamed live because someone would need to be on duty to take care of technical difficulties.