North Judson-San Pierre Presents Bare-Bones Budget

BluejayThe proposed North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation budget has been slashed considerably over the past several years. Corporation business manager and treasurer Guy Richie told the county council during last week’s budget hearing that revenue continues to decline due to changes in state funding and drops in enrollment. Continue reading

Starke County Officials Name Redevelopment Commission

starke-county-courthouseStarke County once again has a populated county redevelopment commission board. The volunteer body was established by the commissioners in 2006 and set up a tax increment financing, or TIF, district near the intersection of U.S. 30 and U.S. 35 in Hamlet. It allows property tax money generated in a specific area to be recaptured for infrastructure improvements in the area. By doing so, the land becomes more attractive to other potential business and industrial tenants. The five parcels of land in the Sysco TIF district have generated $15,427.71 for the county. That money is receipted by the auditor and parked in a special account. Continue reading

IU Health Starke Hospital President Updates Council, Commissioners

Felty, Craig

IU Health Starke Hospital President Craig Felty

IU Health Starke Hospital intends to renew its lease with the county for the current facility. President Craig Felty told the council and commissioners Monday a formal notice will be forthcoming in 30 to 60 days. Right now due diligence is continuing in the proposed acquisition of IU Health Starke and LaPorte Hospitals by Community Health Systems. Continue reading

Starke County Council to Consider Salary Ordinance Ranges

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council will consider salary ordinance ranges for county employees when they meet this evening. Their agenda indicates proposed 1, 2 and 3 percent increases will be discussed, along with an adjustment to the state’s mileage rate. Continue reading

Senator Decries Legislature’s “Education Session”

Senator Jim Arnold

Senator Jim Arnold

A local lawmaker says the recently completed session of the Indiana General Assembly was the most trying and most contentious of his nine-year legislative career. Gov. Mike Pence touted it as the education session. Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, agrees this year’s 2.2 percent increase in school funding and next year’s 2.5 percent hike are the largest increases in education funding in history.

“It sounds very good. The downside of that is that the vast majority of our increased money now is going to vouchers and going to charter schools, not going to public school systems,” Arnold recently told the Starke County Council and Commissioners. “The big winners of this are going to be the urban schools. The rural schools such as Knox are going to be the big losers.” Continue reading

Starke County Officials Seeking Redevelopment Commission Candidates

starke-county-courthouseStarke County officials are looking for members to serve on the long-dormant county redevelopment commission by appointing new members. It was established in 2006 to oversee a tax increment financing district set up by the county as part of the effort to bring Sysco to Hamlet. Continue reading

County Council Sets Sanitarian Salary, Defers Building Inspector Request

starke-county-courthouseStarke County’s new sanitarian will earn considerably less per hour than his predecessor after action last night by the county council. Health nurse Frank Lynch asked the council to lower the wage for the position from $20.28 per hour to $18.50 to start. After 90 days and a successful performance evaluation it will go up to $19.00 and top out at $19.50. Lynch says this is consistent with what other counties pay for the same position and addresses the salary discrepancy between that job and his as head of the health department.

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Starke County Council Approves Purchase of New Court Software

starke-county-courthouseStarke County will soon switch to a new court software program. IT Director Joe Short says the Windows-based Odyssey program will replace the DOS-based CSI program that’s currently in use. The switch will also save the county the $25,000 a year they are currently paying for a maintenance contract. Continue reading

Starke County Council Sets County Vehicle Maintenance Rate

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council reluctantly set a labor rate of $18.50 per hour for work on county-owned vehicles by mechanics at the highway garage. That’s the journeyman mechanic’s hourly rate. Continue reading

Starke County Council to Consider Jail Commander Pay

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council will decide tonight whether to increase the salary for the jail commander. Sheriff Bill Dulin’s request to boost the pay for the position to reflect the additional responsibilities at the new jail got a favorable recommendation from the county commissioners. Dulin told them he can transfer money from within his budget to cover the extra expense. Continue reading

Starke County Council Prepares For Budget Planning

 Starke County department heads will soon begin work on their annual budgets for the upcoming year. Auditor Kay Chaffins says preliminary budgets need to be submitted to the state Department of Local Government Finance by the end of June. This will be the first budget session for Sheriff Bill Dulin and Clerk Vicki Cooley, both of whom were elected last fall and took office in January. Continue reading

Starke County Council Approves Salary Ordinance Amendments

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council last night approved two amendments to the salary ordinance to reflect changing job duties. The county highway bookkeeper/clerk will work eight hours per day instead of seven. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the first and last hours of the work day are the busiest, and this will ensure efficient work flow. He adds the department administrator has taken on more responsibilities due to internal restructuring and needs the additional hour to get everything done. Continue reading

Starke County Council to Consider Salary Ordinance Changes Tonight

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council will take up the agenda from their rescheduled May 18 meeting during a special-called 5:30 p.m. session tonight. It includes a request to create a new position and proposed amendments to the county’s salary ordinance. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is also on the agenda to request a transfer and an amendment to the salary ordinance to create an administrative assistant position. The meeting will take place in the first floor meeting room at the county annex building.

Courthouse Repairs on Starke County Commissioners Agenda

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners should have a better idea how much repairs to the courthouse will cost after their meeting tonight. They’ve asked for quotes on tuckpointing the brick in order to set a budget for the work. Fixing the masonry is one of several repairs that need to be made to the historic structure. Wiring needs to be upgraded, and the roof needs to be fixed as well. Continue reading

Starke County Council Authorizes Mailing of Inkeepers Tax Letters

starke-county-courthouseStarke County inkeepers taxes are now payable to the county treasurer’s office each month. The forms that need to be submitted with those payments are available on the county’s website, and any questions can be directed to the treasurer’s office. Payments were previously submitted to the state. Continue reading

Starke County Council Approves Mower Purchase for Jail

Starke County Sheriff's Department BadgeStarke County officials have opted to do their own lawn maintenance and snow removal at the new jail in an effort to contain costs. On Monday the county council approved the purchase of a mower with a commercial grade deck for the facility. It will be paid for with tax money set aside for construction of the building east of Knox on State Road 8. Continue reading