VALPARAISO | A fairly routine start-of-the-year meeting for the City Council involved approvals for spending more than $3 million in various funds.
The biggest was Valparaiso's budget for its share of the Porter County economic development income tax totaling $2.44 million. The biggest share of that was $550,000 set aside for employee health care expenses.
City Administrator Bill Oeding said $50,000 will set up a safety net to help employees whose claims exceed their coverage under the new plan that went into effect Jan. 1.
The rest will be a reserve to cover any claims left over from the 2012 self-insurance plan the city previously had. The city had an unusual number of health claims in 2012 that doubled the budgeted amount for the program and was one of the factors that led to the new insurance plan.
The EDIT budget once again sets aside $300,000 for the city's public transportation system to pay the local share of operating the V-Line intracity buses and the ChicaGo Dash weekday express commuter service to Chicago's Loop.
The same amount is set aside for pathways and sidewalks, and $147,000 will go to the downtown facade grant program. Of the latter amount, $47,000 is carried over from 2012 for projects that were approved but not completed before the end of the year.
The council also approved spending the $300,000 from the redevelopment commission's tax increment financing replacement levy for the capital equipment fund. This money is used to pay for vehicles and equipment for the police, fire and public works departments.
The budget for the money from the parking fees and fines was approved at $99,500, while another $105,000 was approved from the firefighting fund to pay for code inspections by firefighters. Both funds are self-supporting.