In shutting down the total quality management program last week, the Porter County Council put the county back in the Dark Ages.
Porter County invested $500,000 in the TQM program in March 2011, and it more than paid for itself.
Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski, Assessor Jon Snyder and Treasurer Mike Bucko teamed up on the TQM effort, doing things like cross-training employees so they could help out in each of the three finance-related departments. That's a big help in dealing with the separate busy seasons in each department.
Their scrutiny of assessment records on single-family homes uncovered many improperly applied homestead deductions, which led to $1.6 million in additional revenue for the county. The TQM effort also brought e-government, a reduction in the backlog of property tax assessment appeals and the collection of back taxes, for another $1 million for the county.
TQM has improved service to the public in those three departments.
This is the way government is supposed to work. Porter County's TQM program is a model for other counties.
Or rather, it was until the County Council, in a surprise move, yanked the rug out from under the TQM program last week.
The council voted last week to cut off the auditor's direct access to more than $600,000 in a nonreverting fund generated by TQM efforts.
That money should be reinvested in TQM efforts.
There's no misunderstanding about the program's successes. Wichlinski reported back to the council on a frequent basis to update them on progress in the TQM effort.
It is unfortunate that the council continues to show the dysfunction that has plagued it for so long and, as a result, other office holders are thwarted in their efforts to improve service to the public.
Porter County deserves better than this.