Skirting the Law: Most Lake County Leaders Fail to Report Contracts

Despite a 2016 law requiring contracts over $50,000 to be uploaded to Indiana Gateway, most LC municipalities including Hammond, Schererville, St. John, and Whiting have never uploaded a single contract.

City of Hammond has uploaded zero documents to the Indiana Gateway despite a 2016 law requiring all contracts over $50,000 to be uploaded.

December 4, 2018-Since 2016, Indiana has required local units of government to upload all contracts for goods and services with a total cost over $50,000 to be uploaded to the Indiana Gateway.  The statute unequiviprovides that the contracts should be uploaded with 60 days of signing:

Sec. 3.5. (a) As used in this section, ‘contract’ includes all pages of a contract and any attachments to the contract.
“(b) A political subdivision shall scan and upload the digital image of a contract to the Indiana transparency Internet web site during each year that the contract amount to be paid by the political subdivision for that year exceeds the lesser of:
“(1) ten percent (10%) of the political subdivision’s property tax levy for that year; or
“(2) fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

“A political subdivision shall scan and upload the contract not later than sixty (60) days after the date the contract is executed.  I.C  5-14-3.8-3.5

Despite the clear mandate, the majority of Lake County municipalities have simply ignored the law.  Additionally, other units of government including schools, sanitary districts, library boards, solid waste districts, and stormwater management have all seen the number and amount of contracts grow but few have uploaded them.  The School City of Hammond and the Town of Highland only began uploading the contracts after asked about the issue by the Gazette.
Particularly troublesome is the failure of redevelopment commissions to upload contracts.  Redevelopment contracts often provide millions of dollars in incentives to politically connected developers but virtually none of those contracts are uploaded.  In addition to the local municipalities, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has scoffed at the law and has not uploaded a single contract to the gateway.
The municipalities that we found with zero contracts uploaded were:
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority
City of Whiting
City of Hammond (including Redevelopment, Sanitary District, Water Board)
Town of Schererville
Town of Cedar Lake
Town of Lowell
City of Lake Station
Town of New Chicago
Whiting School Corporation
School City of East Chicago
Highland School Town
Munster Community School Corporation
Lake Central School Corporation
River Forest School Corporation
Merrillville School Corporation
Tri Creek School Corporation
In addition to the above, the Lake County Solid Waste Management District and Town of Dyer have uploaded just 3 contracts each since July 1, 2017.  The City of Gary has uploaded just two contracts (possibly the same one twice), and the Gary Sanitary District has not uploaded a contract executed in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Solicitor General is arguing to the US
Supreme Court that it is constitutional to seize your car if you are caught going 5 miles over the speed limit.
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You can check the Indiana Gateway to see if your elected and appointed officials are complying with the law:
https://gateway.ifionline.org/public/contract-search/

 

7 Comments

  1. What is the penalty for “skirting the law”? Obviously, nothing sufficient to cause anyone to worry? Perhaps, that should be amended? After all, taxpayers have a right to know where the money is going.

    • Again I say, Are We Surprised?
      Our elected officials do whatever they want, whenever they want, until they get investigated, indicted or convicted.

    • Right now the penalty is I let the voters know and, hopefully, enough people care enough to demand transparency. The State Board of Accounts should be chastising them for this also but I have not seen it yet.

  2. I would love to see the contracts for Columbia ave in Hammond . Every year they are repairing that street . I would love to know who is getting that contract. I would fire whoever is awarding it immediately if I could .

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