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HomeTourismPorter County Council splits on settlement payout for former tourism director

Porter County Council splits on settlement payout for former tourism director

The Porter County Council grudgingly approved by a vote of 4 to 2 a $225,000 severance settlement Tuesday with former Indiana Dunes Tourism Director Lorelei Weimer to pay out the remaining two years of her three-year contract.
Weimer resigned unexpectedly in January with a severance agreement unanimously approved by the 11-member tourism board.
Weimer’s contract was signed Nov. 17, 2022.
“As discussed, that would come out of our crisis fund and would not involve county funds,” Mitch Peters, president of the tourism board, told the council of the payout.
The council approved the appropriation but was not happy with the tourism board. Council Vice President Red Stone, R-1st, and council member Andy Bozak, R-At-Large, voted nay, though others voiced the opinion that they wanted to.
“Under the advice of counsel, yes,” voted Andy Vasquez, R-4th, during the roll call. Council President Mike Brickner, R-At-Large, was absent following surgery but is expected back next month.
The council started its public meeting late Tuesday evening because it was meeting in executive session with county attorneys about the settlement. No information was given at the public meeting other than to say the issue was confidential and to state the settlement amount in question.
“I struggle with this, Mitch,” said council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd. “I’m just going to go with the opinion of our two attorneys.”
“I’m not liking this,” added council member Sylvia Graham, D-At-Large.
“Ninety-five percent of the people in Porter County don’t get a settlement like this,” said Stone.
“This puts us in a bad spot as a council. They’re not fighting hard because they said it’s an innkeeper tax and that’s not right,” he added after the meeting. “And you wonder why people have a hard time trusting government.”
Stone said he didn’t really get much out of the executive session and wants to know why the settlement needs to be confidential. He said the only document the council was shown was Weimer’s original contract, which he says states that if she were to be terminated for cause she would receive a small buyout, “not two years of salary, full salary, with COBRA.”
He’s even questioned whether it’s legal for there to be a confidentiality agreement with a government employee and said someone on the tourism board needs to answer for the settlement.
“Something’s just not right,” Stone said. “Something doesn’t smell right and that’s why I couldn’t vote for it. I just feel like I wasn’t being told the whole story.”
Shelley Jones is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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