County to pay some bills but most vendors still facing lengthy wait (new computer system blamed for mess) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread (Gary Indiana)

County to pay some bills but most vendors still facing lengthy wait

By Rich James / Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - The Lake County Council loosened the purse strings Tuesday, but most vendors doing business with county government still face a wait of at least six weeks before their checks are in the mail.

The council, based on a recommendation from financial administrator Dante Rondelli, said it only will appropriate money to meet debt service or time-obligated contractual payments, such as bonds and tax anticipation warrants.

"By not making payments, we will incur other expenses," Rondelli said.

The flow of money from county government - other than for payroll - has been at a virtual standstill since the State Tax Board invalidated the county's 2000 budget last month.

The state, the county's new computer system and personnel problems have been blamed for the financial mess.

The council also voted to appeal the state's rejection of a request to fund $2.7 million outside the allowable levy in 2000.

While the council agenda was stacked with potentially volatile issues, councilmen put off the weighty decisions until next month.

The key deferrals included:

** Two appointments to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals were deferred. For the Republican appointment, Councilman Troy Montgomery, D-Gary, proposed James Pope, an employee of the county prosecutor, and Councilman Larry Blanchard, R-Crown Point, nominated Barbara Pawlak, the former manager of the Village Shopping Center. No vote was taken. Republican Dan Jordan isn't seeking re-appointment to the board.

There also will be some council opposition to the re-appointment of Democrat Doug Hensley, an auditor's employee.

** An ordinance to ban smoking in all county-owned buildings won't be heard until March. Councilman Donald Potrebic, D-Hobart, said he sought the delay when he was flooded with concerns.

** An ordinance to eliminate county jobs through attrition was delayed until the council adopts a new 2000 budget in about three weeks.

The council did take some action, including:

** The approval of four new employees for the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau at a total annual cost of $113,000.

The personnel, who have been working part-time, help operate the new visitors center. The salaries are paid through the hotel tax.

** Approved the sale of two Cedar Lake properties - the former Salesian Preparatory School and the former Centier bank building.

They were sold at auction last month to Sergio Urquiza of Dyer, the owner of the Meyer Castle.

** Rejected a request from Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg for $20,000.

Blumenberg said he needs the money to hire a lawyer to sue the County Council for not appropriating money for him to do the reassessment. Gov. Frank O'Bannon put the reassessment on hold through an administrative order.


-- Homer Beanfang (, February 09, 2000

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