The Calumet Township Assessor's Office will not receive nearly $80,000 in new funding requested from the Lake County Council Tuesday to pay for contracts awarded outside the authorized budget, officials said. Ta.
At the council's Thursday workshop, commissioners said the request for funding for professional services called for in the budget presented by the Assessor's Office is due to the 2024 budget process specifically cutting that line item. , said it was untenable.
City Council Vice President David Hamm (D-Hammond), who chairs the review committee, said his office won't move forward with the request for funding because it has contracted with a contractor that doesn't have the funds. Ta.
Chief Deputy Assessor Sondra Ford did not seem to understand that the funds were not available, despite the fact that Congress did not fund that request in the approved 2024 budget.
“The contract was approved by the commissioners, but the budget was reduced,” Ford said.
At the time the contract was signed, Ford's office said it had no knowledge that the budget would be cut. Hamm asked what would happen to the county's finances if assessors from other townships also entered into off-budget contracts and came to council for approval.
City Council President Christine Sid, D-East Chicago, said department leaders should know they have to secure funding before they go to committees to sign contracts. said it was important. Hamm added that commissioners likely signed the contract with the understanding that the office would wait until funds were available.
Committee Chairman Mike Lipay, D-Hammond, who was present at the council workshop, acknowledged that without the allocation, the contract is invalid.
Scott Schmal, the council's finance director, said it was common for departments to not understand the budget process. Just because a department requests funds does not mean the request will be approved.
“Your request was for a significant increase in that particular item,” Schmal said. He said the increase is more than 500% from the previous year and that Congress intentionally cut this line item during the budget process.
“This year's budget was not cut. It's higher than last year,” Schmal said. “This particular item was intentionally increased in the (budget) request. It was also not consciously approved.”
Hamm said this month that the Legislature is trying to minimize spending from the general fund until the auditor's office formally finalizes the county's cash balances to submit to the state.
The Calumet Township Assessor position is currently in flux following the Jan. 23 death of Cosey Weatherspoon, who was just in his second year on the job.
“We have a new Calumet Township assessor coming in,” Hamm said.
Since you don't know who the new evaluator will be, you must wait until that person is seated before making any decisions. The council also plans to reshuffle its committees on Tuesday, with Councilman Ted Bilski (D-Hobart) likely to become the new chair.
“We have at least a month to figure out who the committee chair is and who the new Calumet Township assessor is,” Hamm said.