Chesterton Tribune



Council okays 2019 budget with 269K deficit in the General Fund

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The Chesterton Town Council has approved an advertised 2019 budget which includes what Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela is calling a “projected structural deficit” in the General Fund.

The size of that deficit, Kuziela told the Town Council at its meeting Monday night: $269,261.46.

Kuziela said that, by her calculations, projected expenses in the 2019 General Fund--used to pay the town’s daily operations, including many department’s wages--will exceed projected revenues by that amount.

Kuziela added, however, that she expects at year’s end a large enough balance to remain in the town’s books to make good on the deficit projected in the 2019 General Fund. “There will be sufficient cash at the end of the year,” Kuziela said.

Still, going forward, Kuziela advised the council against continued deficit spending.

Member Jim Ton, R-1st, agreed with Kuziela in principle but made a case for the necessity of doing so this time. “Every item in this budget needs to be done,” he said. “What we have in there we need to do. The issues we’re spending money on are vital to the town.”

Members then voted unanimously to adopt the advertised 2019 budget, which will now go the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for review.

The advertised property tax rate for 2019 is $0.9963 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The total 2019 budget: $10,928,490, with $5,517,968 in the General Fund.

Engine Bid Awarded

In other business, members voted unanimously, at Fire Chief John Jarka’s recommendation, to award the bid for a new engine to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder: Smeal Fire Apparatus of Valparaiso, whose bid of $508,746 was about $11,000 better than the next lowest bid of $519,915, submitted by Sutphen of Dublin, Ohio.

Payments on the new engine will be made with moneys from Cumulative Capital Development, a fund with a dedicated property-tax rate used exclusively for the purchase of emergency vehicles.

The new engine is slated to replace Engine 512, a 200 Pierce which--until it lost its rear axle and threw a differential in July during routine driver training--had been the CFD’s main backup, in support of the primary engine, No. 510, a 2015 Sutphen.

Jarka determined that the cost of repairing the 18-year-old Pierce Saber was likely higher than the vehicle was worth. He also investigating the feasibility of replacing it with a demo model but learned that those available are too small for the amount of equipment which the CFD regularly carries to scenes.

The CFD has one other backup engine but it’s 26 years old: No. 511, a Pierce International.

Asphalt Bids

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously, at Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg’s recommendation, to go out for bids on the 2019 paving season’s asphalt contract.

The council will open those bids at its Nov. 26 meeting.

Schnadenberg has said that it’s probably a smart move to lock in a price earlier rather than later, given the possibility of sharply rising fuel prices.

Permit Fee Waiver

Members also voted unanimously to waive the building permit fee for a project to be undertaken by the Duneland School Corporation at Chesterton Middle School.

Duneland Schools will be investing $25,000 in the construction of a breeze way at Door No. 2--normal fee for a project of that scope: $100--to make the entrance foyer a little warmer in the winter.


Posted 10/23/2018




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