Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter employees get new insurance plan; town projected to save money

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Town of Porter employees will have a new health-insurance provider effective next month bringing minor benefit changes and a new provider network. The Town Council on Tuesday approved switching carriers to Assurant Health for coverage and Allied Health as the third-party administrator. Bids from 10 companies were received.

The move means a $50,900 savings over initial renewal of last year’s plan. The total annual 2014/15 premium is approximately $480,000 for 30 employees.

Council member Elka Nelson thanked police chief James Spanier for working with insurance consultant Steve Brady to to put the package together. Spanier said some employees will see small increases and/or decreases in what they contribute, but it was a “no-brainer” because the maximum out-of-pocket cost is substantially less.

Nelson said preventative diagnostic testing now will be covered before a deductible is met. Public Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer said that will give employees more incentive to be tested.

In other business, in 2010 under pressure from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management the Porter Redevelopment Commission issued a $4 million bond issue and the Town Council $1 million in bonds to fund a comprehensive overhaul of Porter’s long-neglected sanitary sewer system.

Now, the bond money is spent and Tuesday the council started tapping the town’s sewer fund to pay for the remaining repairs.

The council approved a $39,375 payment to Woodruff & Sons, and entered into a $144,618 contract with low-bidder Woodruff for a pump station bypass project.

The council also approved a not-to-exceed $20,000 contract with Haas & Associates for engineering and construction-management services related to the pump-station bypass.

Council president Greg Stinson said Porter is not 100 percent done with its requirements under the agreed order with IDEM.

The original IDEM deadline for completion was late 2012 but that has been extended. Total repayment of the 2010 bonds will take up to 15 years. The work included major projects like construction of a new Porter Avenue lift station and trunk line to the Chesterton sewage-treatment plant, relining of much of the downtown Porter sewers, and major upgrades at several other lift stations.

Also Tuesday, park director Brian Bugajski invited the public to a free outdoor showing of the movie “The Sandlot” at the Hawthorne Park ballfield Aug. 15. He said the Chesterton Art Fair will take place Aug. 2 and 3 at Hawthorne so parking will impact use of the Orchard Pedway hike/bike trail through the park.

Approved was a $2,000 appropriation from the park donations fund for general children and adult programming. Town of Porter clothing and merchandise still is available through the park as a fundraiser.

At Brueckheimer’s suggestion the town will send a letter of support backing a multi-agency effort to remove log jams and build a handicap-accessible launch ramp along the Little Calumet River, which runs through Porter.

Fire Chief Lewis Craig submitted an updated mutual-aid agreement for council review that will give Porter access to equipment and manpower from anywhere in Indiana in the event of disaster or extreme need.

Resident Debbie Bowen asked why she didn’t see arrests made when a digital sign posting the 20 mph speed limit on Franklin Street showed 39 drivers exceeded it. Spanier said statistics show most drivers do or have slowed down because of the sign, and officers will return after the sign is removed to do enforcement.

At the Stormwater Management Board meeting prior to the council, Brueckheimer was authorized to look into whether an abandoned sanitary lift station could be converted to a stormwater lift station to serve the Wagner Hills area. Repeated flooding has plagued the subdivision.

Brueckheimer said it appears there’s no room to enlarge the Wagner Hills detention basin, and the lack of dedicated drainage easements allowing the town to do work within the subdivision is slowing a solution.

 

Posted 7/24/2014