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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "St. Joseph County transparency fight moves to Statehouse"

That is the headline to a story today by Jeff Parrott of the South Bend Tribune. Some quotes:

The battle over a St. Joseph County Council ordinance that would require more public disclosure of county contract details has made its way to the Indiana General Assembly.

Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Goshen, introduced a bill Wednesday [ILB - HB 1391] to let the council adopt an ordinance establishing requirements for the billing of professional services to the county. The bill specifies that it applies to “St. Joseph County’s legislative body,” which is the council. It was assigned to the House Local Government Committee but hadn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Meanwhile, the Indiana attorney general Wednesday told the South Bend Tribune that it will decline a request from county commissioners to issue an advisory opinion on whether commissioners can be required to implement the ordinance.

The Taxpayer Protection and Transparency Ordinance, authored by Republican St. Joseph County Council member Jamie O’Brien, would have required more public disclosure on how county money is spent on professional services provided by outside vendors, such as law firms, engineers, accountants and consultants. The biggest change from current procedures would be a stipulation that services provided for anything other than hourly fees, such as a fixed fee, would have to list the amount of time spent on the work so that an average hourly rate could be listed. * * *

Bryan Corbin, spokesman for Attorney General Greg Zoeller, said that office won’t give a non-binding legal opinion because it only does so for its “state government clients” and “cannot render legal advice to county government officials.” Corbin said the office was in the process of preparing a formal letter and would soon mail it to commissioners.

The ILB has an earlier post on this same issue, from Nov. 23, 2015, again quoting a story by reporter Parrott, this one headed " "How much do contractors charge St. Joseph County taxpayers?"."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 14, 2016 01:10 PM
Posted to Indiana Government