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Indiana county leaders honor Lake for government effectiveness initiative
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Indiana county leaders honor Lake for government effectiveness initiative

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CROWN POINT — Efficient, effective government is alive and well in Lake County.

That's the word from the Association of Indiana Counties which recently presented its prestigious 2020 County Achievement Award to Lake County for developing and implementing a new purchasing manual.

Elected county officials from across the state agreed the Lake County Purchasing Manual creatively solved a difficult problem, increased the effectiveness of Lake County government and set an example that can be followed by Indiana's 91 other counties.

The 225-page manual, available online at lakecountyin.org, was adopted by the three-member Board of County Commissioners to get the best value for taxpayer dollars while complying with myriad state laws and regulations pertaining to government purchases.

"When I started my first term in 2017, one of my first duties was to review and approve a stack of purchase orders, and in that stack of purchase orders some of them had invoices attached, some of them had no documentation attached, which led me to believe that we were not in full compliance with the state purchasing statutes," said Commissioner Jerry Tippy, R-Schererville.

The manual corrected this by designating purchasing agents for each county government department and identifying the forms and minimum number of price quotes required to make purchases within certain dollar ranges.

"We were looking primarily at the single-source purchasing," Tippy said. "We felt that there were purchases being made that probably should have gone out for quotes or proposals, and this was how we were able to identify them."

The manual also classifies each purchasing technique using a number that enables the county commissioners, over time, to review whether the best purchasing method is being used, or whether another purchasing strategy could help Lake County acquire the same goods or services at a better price.

Savings for taxpayers

Steve Bielak, a clerk in the Lake County Highway Department, said going through the different purchasing processes helped the highway department find pricing efficiencies that are saving taxpayer dollars.

"We thought we were getting great prices in dealing with our local auto parts dealers, and then we found after going online through One Indiana that we're still dealing with the same dealer, but we're getting prices that are even better than what we were getting locally because of the state's bulk purchasing power," Bielak said.

"So just by keeping our eyes open, and being willing to change, we've been able to save quite a bit of money in the highway department."

Brenda Koselke, the county purchasing director, said successfully implementing the purchasing manual has been a team effort between the commissioners, county attorney, her office and the bookkeepers in each department.

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