Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Town Council borrows $400,000 from Utility

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Town Council has formally borrowed $400,000 from the Utility, to make ends meet as the year closes.

At their meeting Monday night, members voted 4-0 to approve on first reading an ordinance authorizing the loan, 4-0 to suspend the rules, then 4-0 to approve the ordinance on final reading. Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, was not in attendance.

The purpose of the loan: to make good on a shortfall in the year’s General Fund and Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) fund.

That $400,000 shortfall is chiefly the result of cuts made earlier this year by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to the town’s 2012 budget. Some of those cuts were routine but others were Draconian, the latter apparently because the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office missed the deadline in the fall of 2011 by which, under Indiana Code, municipalities are required to publish their advertised budgets.

About six years ago, the Utility made a similar loan to the town, so there is precedent for the move. Under state law, the town must repay the loan no later than 30 days after the final 2013 property-tax draw.

Also under state law, the Utility may only make the loan if it has at least $400,000 in cash reserve over and above its anticipated needs and expenses. At the Utility Service Board’s meeting last week—where the board approved the loan—Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson said that the Utility does have sufficient cash reserves.

IAFF Local 4600

In other business, Fire Chief Mike Orlich announced that the 2013 contract for the International Association of Firefighters Local 4600—representing the CFD’s career firefighters—has been successfully negotiated, with no substantive changes.

Among other things, the agreement provides for the following: Local 4600 members may meet at the fire station, may post notices on a bulletin board at the station, may hold elections at the station, and shall have their dues deducted from their paychecks and remitted by the town to IAFF.

Health Insurance

Meanwhile, members voted 4-0 to renew its health insurance policy with American National, under which the town’s exposure will increase by 2.5 percent. The average market increase: between 6 and 8 percent.

“I see no downside,” said Member Jeff Trout, R-2nd.

Members also voted 4-0 to accept Franciscan Alliance’s proposal for an employment assistance program, which FA will fold into its current clinic program with the town at no extra charge.

The employee assistance program provides counseling services to municipal employees. The arrangement with FA will take effect on Jan. 1. Currently Porter-Starke Services Inc. provides the service to the town.

 

Posted 11/28/2012