County councilman concerned about ongoing contract costs

2013-07-23T20:40:00Z 2013-07-23T21:01:08Z County councilman concerned about ongoing contract costsBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st, voiced concern Tuesday night about county commissioners continuing to enter into contracts with ongoing costs and then leaving it up to the council to decide where to find the money.

This is of growing concern because the council is left with little choice but to find the additional funding at a time when the county is facing many financial challenges, he said.

"Where does this end?" Biggs asked. "I just don't think we're in a place where we can be spending money like that right now."

The concern surfaced as the council shifted $300,000 from a jail food budget to cover three months of the new inmate health care contract.

The council was then presented with a $75,598 bill for the design of the new county website that carries an ongoing annual software maintenance fee of $12,000. The design fee includes the first year's maintenance cost.

Biggs again said the answer to the problem is for the commissioners to have a long-term strategic plan done so preparations can be made for costs.

The conversation about the new website design then triggered concerns about the county paying some departments to operate their own sites online.

Biggs further questioned the commissioners' decision in April to pay local resident Curt Ellis $18,000 a year to maintain a social media presence for the animal shelter, Memorial Opera House, Expo Center, parks, a stormwater program and the county as a whole.

Ellis had been receiving $10 a day to maintain the shelter's Facebook page.

Some members of the council voiced interest in having all the online work done by the county's information technologies department, which was granted a $52,000 salary Tuesday to hire an additional server administrator.

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