Porter County combining emergency and environmental departments

2012-07-18T13:30:00Z 2012-07-19T11:13:28Z Porter County combining emergency and environmental departmentsBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Newly appointed Porter County Emergency Management Director Russell Shirley has wasted no time in coming up with a way to save taxpayers $20,000 a year.

The Porter County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a plan by Shirley to combine the county emergency management and environmental departments, leaving three of the four positions with emergency management.

The move, which must be approved by the County Council, would result in a savings because the federal government reimburses half of the salaries for the emergency management department and a portion of the benefit costs, Shirley said.

The proposal places Shirley in charge of both departments and leaves a deputy director and administrative assistant with emergency management, and a part-time training officer with the environmental department, he said. Karen Kuehl serves as administrative assistant; Greg Eckhardt serves as training officer; and the deputy director position is vacant.

The move comes in the wake of an even larger savings to taxpayers by Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, who has reduced his staff from 24 to 20 since taking office at the start of 2011.

The reduction, which he credits to greater efficiency in the office, is saving taxpayers $50,000 to $60,000 a year, Snyder said.

"It's always been our goal to reduce and help the county in that way," he said.

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