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Portage City Hall

Portage City Hall.

PORTAGE — Progress is being made on dissolving the Utility Services Board and handing its responsibilities  overseeing stormwater and sanitary sewer issues to newly created boards.

A status hearing scheduled for Wednesday was canceled after both sides filed a joint status report, according to court records.

Portage Mayor James Snyder filed a lawsuit against the City Council earlier this year, claiming the Utility Service Board was in violation of Indiana law. The council, which also serves as the USB, took away control of the USB from Snyder last year, citing questionable spending.

The two sides reached a consent agreement in late April, approved by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, which would eventually disband the USB and establish the two separate boards. The City Council in May approved an ordinance establishing the two boards. The newly formed Storm Water Board and Sanitary Board have been meeting since June.

The two sides appeared before Harper in June during a status hearing. At that hearing, Indianapolis-based attorneys for both sides cited a lack of progress in negotiating the transition.

Harper told the two sides to begin negotiating in earnest and set deadlines, including the Aug. 8 status hearing and a deadline of Aug. 28 to put in place a completed plan and timeline to implement the transition between the single board and two new boards.

According to court documents filed this week, a transition team has met at least six times to work on the process and to hammer out issues ranging from equipment to employees and finances. They also hired a bond counsel as ordered by the court in June to resolve issues related to bonds issued by the USB.

"The parties are continuing to meet to discuss the transition plans and believe they will be in a position to agree on a final transition plan and timeline for implementing such by Aug. 28, 2018, as required by the court's June 29, 2018 order," according to the joint status report.

The filing also included multipage preliminary transition plans, one from each party.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.