LAPORTE | Riverboat funds used to operate LaPorte County government during the several years it took to finish the property tax reassessments will be paid back.
The decision Monday night by the LaPorte County Council goes against the wishes of the LaPorte County Commissioners who wanted to clear the books of the expended casino money.
"This is the way it had to be," said LaPorte County Councilman Rich Mrozinski, who said by ordinance any casino money spent from the rainy day fund must be paid back.
The rainy day fund, supplied with riverboat dollars, was created over a decade ago for use in emergencies and contained $10 million when delays in reassessing property taxes countywide left local governments short of revenue.
Instead of borrowing funds to operate and paying back the money with interest, the county took out interest-free loans from the rainy day fund each year to help pay daily operating expenses until the reassessment was completed.
The fund has just $1 million left.
Mrozinski said $5 million will immediately go back into the fund. Half of the money from each quarterly draw of casino money will be directed into the fund until every dollar is paid back.
The commissioners wanted to forgive the loan so it doesn't show up in the books right now as a debt that might hinder the county's ability to borrow money for any future needs and restore the fund at about $1 million a year.
"However we get there. They went a little different path than, perhaps, the commissioners would have wanted but we're all aiming for the same thing and that's to get that off the books as a liability," said County Attorney Shaw Friedman.