EDITORIAL: Porter County needs cures for chronic needs

2013-11-01T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Porter County needs cures for chronic needs nwitimes.com
November 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Porter County's 2014 budget, approved last week, fails to address a number of chronic issues facing the county.

To its credit, the County Council finally approved funding for new jailers to open the third pod at the Porter County Jail. That will ease overcrowding.

Perhaps the prospect of having a federal judge turn a future civil rights lawsuit into a mandate for changes at the jail — adding attorney fees to the cost of doing the right thing in the first place — persuaded the council to include those positions in the budget.

But the council still hasn't addressed long-term funding for E-911 services and the animal shelter despite many long conversations and much gnashing of teeth.

Also left hanging were funding for a county jobs plan and for an education and administration center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

The park facility could conceivably be put off, or perhaps a capital campaign begun for the parks foundation to receive a county match for donations it receives, up to half the cost of the building.

The animal shelter, though, has no similarly easy solution. The existing building is too small, which forces some tough choices. The county either has to reduce the number of animals or increase the available space.

The former isn't palatable, so we're faced with deciding where to build and how to pay for it. Sunset Hill has been rejected, so should the county build on land set aside for a future park a mile north of there, in a residential area? Or should it buy land elsewhere, which would drive up the cost of the project? And should the county partner with a nonprofit group on this shelter?

Those questions have been asked before, but they have yet to be answered.

Likewise, the E-911 funding puzzle needs all the pieces put in place. That's a critical public safety need.

And the jobs plan needs financial muscle to make it work.

The 2014 budget doesn't include any solutions for these hot-button issues, so take the several months to discuss options, recognizing that time already has been spent doing so.

By early summer, come up with solid plans for addressing those issues, and make sure the 2015 budget reflects those difficult decisions.

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