VALPARAISO | Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain told the County Commissioners on Tuesday that a fund he relies on to pay for addiction treatment for jail inmates is no longer collecting enough money to cover the costs of the program.
The commissioners went ahead and renewed the annual service contract with Porter-Starke Services of Valparaiso, but made it contingent upon adequate funding.
The counseling services had long been paid for with a $25 booking fee collected at the jail. That fee was done away with in 2012 after repeatedly being flagged as improper by the state.
The county opted instead to wait and collect the fee only from those found guilty of a crime.
Porter County Clerk Karen Martin said when contacted following Tuesday's commissioners meeting that $21,599 was collected in 2012, following a slow start during the first three months of the year.
Less money is being collected now than when it was designated as a booking fee, she said. The money now depends on the disposition of cases and is no longer collected from everyone arrested.
Lain said the annual contract with Porter-Starke calls for payment of $11,300 a month. He plans to draw the first month's payment from an alternative fund while looking into the issue.
When the change in the fee was discussed in late 2011, Lain said that he had no concerns about running low on money considering upward of 90 percent of inmates eventually are convicted of a crime.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners declared an emergency to hire Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. of Northbrook., Ill., to inspect exterior brick at the Memorial Opera House in downtown Valparaiso.
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, said there is concern about the condition of the brick.
The action comes a month after the commissioners declared another emergency to bypass the bidding process and hire a contractor for up to $225,000 to address water infiltration problems believed to be threatening the 119-year-old opera house.
Work has been under way to repair the exterior of the building.