Council dips into hospital sale interest for E911 needs

2013-08-27T22:00:00Z 2013-08-28T06:31:05Z Council dips into hospital sale interest for E911 needsBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Council signed off Tuesday night on a request for $1.1 million in equipment and software upgrades for E911 from the interest generated on the 2007 sale of the county hospital.

But faced with further significant financial challenges in that department and others, the County Council agreed to host a joint meeting with the Porter County Board of Commissioners in hopes of finally coming up with a long-term funding plan.

"We should be talking about this in its entirety," Councilman Dan Whitten, D-at large, said.

The financial challenges causing concern include the E911 department losing half its funding in a year and facing other equipment needs, in addition to the county's list of drainage projects and an overcrowded jail.

Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, also called on his peers to consider news that Portage has to come up with an alternative to sending its stray animals to the Humane Society of Hobart.

County Director of Communications John Jokantas has said the improvements coming to E911 will not only expand capacity and service, but also could reduce insurance costs for county homeowners by improving the rating used to establish rates for local homeowners.

The E911 request came on the heels of a $1.5 million bid from the hospital interest money for a new building at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Liberty Township. The County Council has yet to act on that request.

The county has $159 million in principal and $11.6 million in interest from the sale of the county hospital.

In other business Tuesday, the council approved a request for two new jailers to help escort medical staff as part a wider medical improvement effort at the Porter County Jail.

A shortage of jailers recently left the facility with no other choice than to leave an inmate in the custody of the hospital, Sheriff David Lain said.

Lain told the County Council that nine additional jailers are going to be needed to open the third pod at the jail to relieve overcrowding. He has included that request in next year's proposed budget, which the County Council will consider next month.

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