VALPARAISO | The Porter County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to have a financial study done at the Porter County Sheriff's Department in an effort to bring the jail into compliance with requirements for inmate medical care.
The move surprised Sheriff Dave Lain, who is aiming to wrap up the upgrades by April 2.
"I think it's been transparent the whole time," Lain said. "Have anybody you want look at it, it doesn't matter to me."
"This is not an adversarial thing," Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, responded.
Evans said the goal is to take a close look at the sheriff's budget to determine how best to use those funds and other county money to cover the estimated $1 million in additional annual medical costs.
After walking out of the meeting, Lain said his proposal calls for increasing the five current nursing positions to 12 and implementing mental health care. The improvements, which were called for in a recent federal study, are estimated to cost an additional $1.5 million a year, he said.
Evans said H.J. Umbaugh & Associates will be hired to conduct the study. When asked, following the meeting, about the cost of the work, he said it will be done as part of an existing agreement with the county and a total will be forthcoming.
In other business Tuesday, Portage Fire Chief Tom Fieffer announced that the county's contribution of $185,287 in matching funds has translated into a total of $926,437 for radio equipment to help local firefighters comply with new frequency requirements.
This is the second year local firefighters won a federal grant, he said. The county's total investment over the last two years of $355,682 has resulted in a total of $1.7 million for equipment for departments in Portage, Chesterton, Porter, Liberty Township, Beverly Shores, Westville, Burns Harbor and Union Township, he said.
This latest batch of money will be used to purchase 81 radios for vehicles and 46 portable units, Fieffer said.