VALPARAISO | Porter County Councilman Bob Poparad criticized county Auditor Bob Wichlinski for taking steps this month to lease office space for a satellite auditor site in the new Portage University Center at 6260 Central Avenue.
Poparad said he disagreed with spending nearly $8,000 a month in rent and asked Wichlinski for an audit of the fund from which the rent would come.
The fund, Wichlinski said, is a reverting fund associated with homestead credits that has a surplus, but Poparad argued any leftover money should go back to municipalities.
“I’d like an accounting of how many millions have gone in there. I don’t think the intent of the legislation was to collect $2 million to spend as you see fit,” Poparad said. "That is your interpretation of that statute, and all I want is an accounting of that."
Wichlinski responded at the meeting.
“We generated very detailed reports and went through what we did with the money, the whole nine yards, and eventually it became something that no one was interested in," he said. "You’re new to the council and if you feel we are failing to provide transparency then please accept my apology.”
Wichlinski said the General Assembly is working to make the language of the statute “more accountable,” and until then they have put the project on hold.
Councilwoman Sylvia Graham expressed concern over the program because it would create a future expenditure. Councilwoman Karen Conover said the motion would make Wichlinski accountable. Graham, Conover and Poparad voted to transfer the money to a nonreverting fund while Councilmen Jim Biggs, Jim Polarek and Jeremy Rivas voted to keep the money in the reverting fund with Councilman Dan Whitten absent.
Rivas said the discussion would continue at next month’s meeting.
In other business, Porter County Sheriff David Lain received $68,000 in contractual services to offset a depletion in the Porter Starke Jail Intensive Outpatient Services fund. It provides chemical addiction services aimed at reducing recidivism.
Lain attributed the decrease to lag times between arrest and incarceration and he said the jail has been buffering that fund in the meantime.