Porter Council votes to take fund away from auditor
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 11, 2013 9:10PM
Updated: April 13, 2013 6:43AM
VALPARAISO — As promised, the Porter County Council voted 5-2 Monday to pull control of the auditor’s non-reverting fund away from Auditor Bob Wichlinski and put it into their hands, with the goal of greater accountability for how the money is spent.
There is $606,710.35 in the fund, which is comprised of money collected from homestead credit violations.
Wichlinski said after the meeting he would contact the State Board of Accounts and the Department of Local Government Finance, because the council should have advertised they were going to zero out the fund’s allocations, which isn’t the path they took.
“There’s no such thing as an unallocated non-reverting fund,” he said, adding the projects he’s undertaken will now end because he won’t go to the council for the funds, and the move sets a precedent for pulling funds away from other county offices.
Money from the fund has been used for a Total Quality Management program to improve efficiency for the auditor, assessor, treasurer and recorder.
Council president Bob Poparad, D-At-large, first brought up the move two weeks ago, because Wichlinski had announced a two-year pilot project to have county satellite offices at the University Center in Portage at a cost of about $7,000 a month — money which would have come from the auditor’s non-reverting fund.
Council members were concerned that, after the pilot project ran its course, the county would be on the hook for the rent, and they hadn’t been consulted about the plan, which his now on hold.
“Nobody is taking all the money away,” Poparad said of the fund, adding Wichlinski would have to come before the council to have the money allocated.
The discussion, often heated, also noted the need for accountability from the Board of Commissioners for the county economic development tax funds they have charge over. Council members hope the vote will be a starting point, and plan to discuss the CEDIT money later this month.
“We want accountability and we have to start somewhere,” said Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd District.