VALPARAISO | Former Chesterton Tribune reporter Vicki Urbanik, who made a failed bid in 2010 as a Democrat for county auditor, was hired Tuesday night by the Porter County Council to fill the newly created position of full-time budget and finance specialist.
Urbanik will be paid $40,000 a year and offered benefits to help streamline the budget process and keep better tabs on county finances, according to Council President Bob Poparad, D-at-large.
He said a recent study of county finances recommended the creation of the position.
County Councilman Jim Polarek, R-4th, cast the lone vote against Urbanik, who serves on the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.
"She just wasn't the most qualified applicant we had," he said.
Polarek, who supports the creation of the budget position, said Urbanik had the right political connections.
County Councilman Dan Whitten, D-at-large, disagreed and said Urbanik was the most qualified applicant.
Whitten said he has worked for many years with Urbanik in her capacity as a reporter and knows first hand she understands county government and budgeting.
He felt the cost of hiring a full-time employee with benefits as opposed to a consultant was worth it in this situation.
Questions arose about the hiring early on after the council interviewed five applicants, who had responded to an advertisement posted at the county administration center and on the county website.
Polarek said he left those interviews with the impression there was a consensus in favor of one candidate, but was notified a couple days later that a four-member, bi-partisan majority on the council reopened the process to consider Urbanik.
Urbanik, of Morgan Township, said at the time of her failed bid for auditor she had worked in journalism for 25 years and had been employed with the Chesterton Tribune since 1986.
She held certification as a Level I and II assessor-appraiser and has completed post-baccalaureate coursework at Indiana University in finances, management and cost accounting.