Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor joins state municipal coalition

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Town of Burns Harbor is no longer one of the few municipalities in the state which hasn’t joined the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

On Wednesday, all five members of the Town Council voted to join now that dues have been made more affordable.

All 119 cities in the state and roughly 400 of the 477 towns are active members of the Association, said IACT field services manager Brian Gould, who attended the meeting. The coalition’s equation for membership dues is based on a town’s assessed valuation, and with Burns Harbor unique assets, the costs would spike to around $6,600, which has prevented the town from joining.

But Gould said he has reworked the formula in a way that would make Burns Harbor dues similar to other towns of a similar size and tax base. With that formulas, membership would be $3,293 for a full year starting in January.

IACT is a lobbying group which tracks bills and advocates for cities and towns with legislators in the statehouse to facilitate legislation to help cities and towns provide better services to citizens, and oppose legislation that would have adverse effects, Gould said.

One example Gould gave was IACT working against Governor Pence’s plan to eliminate the Business Personal Property tax that so many towns like Burns Harbor depend upon heavily.

“We are a voice for local government,” Gould said.

Other services provided include educational programs and webinars to help town officials understand how TIF districts operate, the effects of property tax caps on budgets, how to find stable and affordable health care coverage by participating in a medical trust, and how to annex property.

IACT also offers legal counsel to its members and a kit to help revitalize downtown areas and attract businesses, Gould said.

Members can also participate in IACT’s annual conference and network with other municipalities, he added.

The motion to join IACT was made by Council member Jeff Freeze.

Firehouse expansion

Under old business, the Council mulled whether to move forward with a proposed addition to the town’s fire station. Members heard from Fire Chief Bill Arney earlier this year that the BHFD is outgrowing its current building and needs more space.

Council President James McGee asked his colleagues if they were ready to let the project out for bids or if it needs to tabled.

Freeze said he feels the funding should be addressed during the 2015 budgeting process, while Council member Greg Miller said he would like more information on the need of the expansion.

Engineering work has been done by Global Engineering & Land Surveying of Michigan City, which has sent the town an invoice for $7,085.

A motion was made by Council member Mike Perrine to pay that bill out of the Fire Department’s budget, which met with agreement by other Council members.

Arney asked why the funds must come from his budget when there are other places where the Council has available funds.

The move drew concern from former Town Council member Ray Poparad, sitting the audience, who asked why the fire department should take a $7,000 budget hit.

Perrine said there is sufficient money in the department’s budget to fund the complete cost of the expansion.

Poparad, during the public comment portion of the meeting, also asked if anything is going to be done about needed upgrades to the Westport Community Club. “It’s sitting there, falling apart. Let’s do something,” he said.

The Council had been considering a potential agreement with Chesterton Pop Warner to lease and help upgrade the grounds.

McGee said the conversations with Pop Warner are continuing.

Sidewalk on Haglund?

Also from the floor, Park Board president Marcus Rogala asked if there were plans to put in a sidewalk on Haglund Road, as more people are using Lakewood Park. His concern is for safety, he said, as he’s seen motorists speeding through the neighborhood.

Council members appeared to reach a consensus that a sidewalk there would be worthwhile.

“A sidewalk there is something everyone here wants to get done,” said Freeze.

Miller suggested putting out a request for bids and that police should beef up enforcement in the area.

Donations

In other actions, the Council approved up to $1,000 towards the annual town picnic set for Sunday, Aug. 24, at Lakewood Park. That matches the amount given last year’s event, which saw a large turnout.

“It’s not a park function. It’s a town function,” said Perrine.

Admission to the picnic is free to residents and a dunk tank and a bounce house will be offered again this year, said Rogala.

Also, the Council agreed to grant up to $500 to support the upcoming town garage sale on Friday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 16, from 8-2 p.m. That’s a $200 increase over what was given last year.

Organizer Joyce Fleming said the sale is growing in popularity and 51 homes participated last year. The money will be used to publicize the sale along with purchasing banners that could be reused in the years to come.

A bad year for mosquitoes

The Council authorized two more applications this summer for town-wide mosquito fogging at the discretion of Town Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan.

Jordan said she’s received more phone calls from residents regarding the pests this year than any other she can remember. “They’re really bad this year,” she said.

The next application will be next week and once more in August, Jordan said. Each application is $650.

Budget meeting

It’s that time of the of the year again.

Town budget meetings, which are open to the public, will start at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 28, the Council decided.

Jordan said the 2015 budget needs to be figured out by Sept. 2 to meet the deadline for a non-binding review by the Porter County Council.

 

 

 

Posted 7/17/2014