Fiscally responsible growth touted in Lake County

2014-03-16T00:00:00Z 2014-03-16T01:04:15Z Fiscally responsible growth touted in Lake CountyHeather Augustyn Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 16, 2014 12:00 am  • 

CROWN POINT | Over the past year or two, Lake County has counted a number of successes that benefit residents and business.

Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay said among the advancements he sees are an employee health care package that is more fiscally responsible for the county, saving anywhere between $2 million and $3 million in the next year.

Repay also said there have been advances made in the county’s jail system.

“When I started four years ago we were faced with the Department of Justice monitoring in the jail and as a group, the council and commissioners supported ... changes that were necessary for the Department of Justice and we haven’t completed it but we’re well on our way to calling that a success,” he said.

The state-mandated E-911 consolidation has been a challenge for Lake County, but Repay said it also is moving forward.

“We were faced with the most daunting consolidation of any in the state with 18 units. A little over a year ago the commissioners made some significant leadership changes and 14 of the 18 have signed on to an inter-local agreement. We have received bids that we are taking into consideration for the new radio system and are ready to go for bid on the construction of the new 911 center in the county building. We’re turning the corner on that situation, which is great,” he said.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen Jr. counts among the county’s successes the ongoing advances of the Marquette Plan.

“We are identifying and freeing as much land along the lakeshore as possible for recreational purposes and we have done it in several communities already. We are in East Chicago and Hammond now and have spent money at Marquette Park in Gary,” Allen said.

The continued expansion of Gary/Chicago International Airport will create economic development in Northwest Indiana, said Allen, and the upgrades to the Lake County Jail are moving in the right direction.

Allen, like Repay, says officials would like to see advances made with transportation in Lake County—Repay would like the South Shore to continue to upgrade and Allen said he would like to see a commuter line built from Chicago to Lowell.

“The county has committed $2 million and the RDA has committed $8 million. Other units of government have committed money to that project which will also include bus service,” said Allen.

For County Councilman Eldon Strong, who has served on the council for one year, he is pleased to have helped with a five-step plan to reduce county government and said they are still trying to incorporate the plan.

“I feel good that I am continuing to work with my fellow colleagues to reduce county spending and expenses, which is very important. The people demand it, and we must do it and we are still seeking alternative avenues to do that,” said Strong.

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