posttrib
PROPER 
Weather Updates

Porter County Council approves hiring freeze

Updated: February 9, 2014 6:42AM



VALPARAISO — Porter County government will undergo a hiring freeze this year to help shore up a $2.8 million gap in its budget.

County Council voted 7-0 in favor of the freeze, which gives department heads and elected officials 30 days to fill an open position from a retirement, resignation or termination.

After that time, funding for the opening will be unappropriated by the council and returned to the general fund.

“Whatever our particular thoughts are, or our vision of where we should be headed, it’s going to be a rough financial year,” Councilman Dan Whitten, D-At-large, said shortly after being named council president.

Noting the budget gap, Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st District, said the council must put itself into department budgets where it wouldn’t have before.

“We will have to fill that hole with reserve funds, which this body has already said it would do,” he said, though he and Whitten agreed the council couldn’t use reserve funds for that purpose indefinitely.

The council will receive a financial report on options for investing the principal from the sale of the county hospital on Friday. During the budget hearings, the council and commissioners discussed the need to invest the principal to generate more revenue for the county.

Council members hope to have a special meeting with the commissioners this month to go over the report.

“Whatever our differences are, the one thing we have to agree on is, we have to tighten our belts, because we are clearly facing a crisis,” Whitten said. “If our No. 1 priority isn’t funding government, we are remiss in our duties.”

Much of the discussion focused on how to implement the hiring freeze, which will be done with the assistance of council attorney Scott McClure, and how the council would handle requests by elected officials and department heads for additional employees.

Outside of the administration building, said Councilman Bob Poparad, D-At-large, either a business has a hiring freeze, or it doesn’t.

“Everyone’s going to have to work harder in 2014. That’s what’s being done across the country,” he said.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.