The Associated Press
CROWN POINT, Ind. — Lake County officials are pushing to have all county contracts put up for bid to avoid wasting public money.
State law permits the Board of Commissioners to award some service contracts without shopping around. The panel also has frequently rehired vendors and consultants with little debate.
But the recent passage of the county income tax has prompted several county officials to push for more competitive bidding, including last month's request for bids on an estimated $40 million in E-911 hardware and infrastructure.
"My goal is to get them out there. I've been participating with the County Council to make sure we are doing our part as commissioners to get value and make sure we aren't paying people more than we need," Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, told The Times in Munster.
Repay said commissioners also are seeking bids for an administrator for the county's $26 million group insurance program in the hope of slowing the cost of health care claims and for data processing firms to process the millions of documents county government generates.
Cenifax Network Solutions of Schererville has controlled almost every computer in Lake County government since 1992. It is being paid up to $2.6 million this year.
Mark Pearman, executive director of Cenifax, said he is prepared to compete to retain the county's business.
The county also is advertising for companies to provide health care in the county jail, the job Correctional Health Indiana and a group of medical consultants have been doing the last two years for between $3 million and $5 million annually.
The new income tax could bring in about $15 million next year, but the county is still dealing with $121 million in long-term debt amassed over the last eight years. It also expects to see a $1 million drop in revenue because of a state elimination of the inheritance tax.