By JEFF SCHULTZ
The Porter County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of implementing a conflict of interest policy concerning how it hires consultants on Tuesday, and signaled their interest in compiling a responsible bidder policy.
The Commissioners voted 3-0 on first reading for an ordinance to establish the policy that many other states like Indiana have already adopted. Under it, County employees and elected officials would be prohibited from soliciting or accepting gratuities of anything valued at $50 or more from consultants or other parties in contractor agreements, said County Attorney Scott McClure.
McClure said forms of this policy have been put together at the federal level and have trickled down to municipalities. Conflict of interest policies are being required in order to receive matching funds from the federal government that the County would receive for projects through state agencies like the Indiana Department of Transportation, he said.
Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said that he agrees with the ordinance and not just on the merit that it is being required by the federal government.
“I think it’s just good business,” he said.
“I agree,” said Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South.
Next, Marcella Kunstek and Josh Weger of the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (IIIFFC) came to give the Commissioners a presentation on reasons they recommend the County adopt a Responsive Bidder Ordinance, or RBO.
The organization has been in existence for 20 years but not until recently have RDOs become a growing trend, Weger said. IIIFFC has helped 14 counties in Indiana, 25 in Illinois and seven in Iowa. The mission is to increase market share for contractors, increase hours for workers and drive value for taxpayers.
“We are here to help you in any way improve the value of public works construction to your taxpayers and government,” Weger told the Commissioners.