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State Rep. Charlie Brown

Lake County Councilman Charlie Brown, D-Gary

CROWN POINT — The Lake County Council has unanimously approved an ordinance giving county departments more flexibility in transferring money within their budgets.

The proposal from new Councilman Charlie Brown, D-Gary, allows departments to self-authorize transfers of less than $5,000 within budget classifications without having to come before the council for approval.

Currently, the council must vote on all transfers, even in cases where department heads want to move a few dollars from one line item, such as office supplies, to another, such as office machinery.

“I’m one of the new kids on the block, but it just doesn’t seem necessary,” Brown said of the current requirement. “We should trust the departments to a certain level.”

The ordinance, which still must be approved by county commissioners, requires the council to approve all transfer requests made in the fourth quarter of the calendar year and those affecting grant funds. It also requires the county auditor to provide the council with a list of budget transfers on a monthly basis, allowing lawmakers to see how department heads are moving money within their budgets.

Councilman Dave Hamm, D-Hammond, said the ordinance was needed because minor transfer requests were squeezing out time for more important council business.

“(Sometimes) it takes fresh ideas,” Hamm said. “Charlie comes in (with his ordinance) and everyone goes, ‘Well, we should have done this a long time ago.’”

Brown's ordinance passed by a vote of 6-0. Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, was not present.

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