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Council OKs addiction program funding for Porter County Jail

Updated: March 28, 2013 6:52AM



VALAPRAISO — In a 5-1 vote, the Porter County Council approved $68,000 over six months to cover a contract with Porter-Starke Services for the Porter County Jail’s chemical dependency and addiction program, which Sheriff David Lain said cuts recidivism rates for participants.

Changes in the assessment of a $25 booking fee, which pays for the program, have created a lag in the funding, Lain said. He and council attorney Scott McClure said the funding should eventually catch up, though McClure said the funding won’t be at quite the same level it was because of the assessment change.

The fee had been assessed when an inmate was booked in the jail, before they had been found guilty of a crime. The State Board of Accounts, though, ordered that the fee be collected through the courts upon conviction.

“I’m hoping the fees catch up as the year progresses and it becomes self-sustaining after that,” Lain said, adding the fee for the program will actually be less than $68,000 for six months, because one of the three counselors for the program is going on extended leave.

Councilman Jim Polarek, R-4th District, voted against the measure because Porter-Starke already receives funding from the county.

In other business, starting next month, the council will meet twice a month instead of once. Council President Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd District, said the additional meeting would be used to address financial and budget concerns, though votes will not be taken during those meetings. The first such meeting is Tuesday.

Rivas also said that at the council’s next regular meeting, on March 20, the council would approve county economic development income tax, or CEDIT, funds for this year.

The council did not include CEDIT funding in this year’s budget because some members wanted more information on how the funds would be spent. The move frustrated the Board of Commissioners, who have not been able to grant funding requests.

The council went into executive session after the meeting to interview five candidates for a budget and finance specialist. The full-time position, which will pay $40,000 out of the council’s budget, will be responsible for going through the budget line by line, Rivas said.



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