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Porter County Council’s first reading on budget easy

Updated: September 11, 2013 6:46PM



VALPARAISO — The Porter County Council made quick work of the first reading of its budget in a Wednesday meeting that, even with a moment of silence in memory of 9/11, lasted all of 15 minutes.

What lies ahead will most likely take longer, including a joint meeting with the Board of Commissioners at 5 p.m. Thursday in the commissioners chambers at the County Administration Building to discuss how to fund some of the more expensive items at hand, including opening the third pod of the county jail and rising medical insurance costs.

The proposed budget includes a general fund of almost $46.3 million, which is likely to be cut during the budget process. This year’s general fund budget was $38 million.

No one signed up to speak during the public hearing, and the only real action came on nonbinding approval — or lack thereof — for the county’s various municipal budgets, including the township trustees, the cities and towns, libraries, and conservancy and fire protection districts.

The council handily approved the budgets that were at or under the state’s 2.6 percent assessed valuation growth quotient, but Councilman Dan Whitten, D-At-large, made a motion not to approve the budgets that were over that limit.

“I understand there are all kinds of reasons, and our votes are nonbinding,” he said.

Vicki Urbanik, the county’s budget and finance specialist, said the Valparaiso Area Lakes Conservancy District was just over the growth quotient, which was disputed by district attorney David Hollenbeck.

“I challenge the math on Valparaiso Area Lakes because when we did the math, we were just under” the growth quotient, Hollenbeck said.

The council voted 5-2 not to approve the budgets over the limit, including Valparaiso Area Lakes.

Budget hearings continue in the coming weeks, with a final reading scheduled for Oct. 2. The council must file the budget with the state Department of Local Government Finance by Nov. 1.



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