Chesterton Tribune



Porter Town Council advances Public Works raise

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The Porter Town Council conducted first readings of two ordinances at its meeting Tuesday night, one of which concerns a pay raise for Public Works employees.

Council President Bill Lopez conducted first reading of ordinance 2020-08, an amendment to the salary ordinance that would give employees at Public Works a raise of $1 to $2 per hour, depending on position. Lopez then suggested the Council suspend its rules to conduct second reading and adopt the changes in the same night.

Lopez said the purpose of the raise is to retain employees at Public Works and make Porter’s pay more competitive with nearby communities. Council member Greg Stinson asked the reasoning behind suspending the rules, since the amendment concerns taxpayer funds.

Building Commissioner Michael Barry said he considers the issue time sensitive because Public Works has recently lost an employee and another has considered leaving. Money for the raises is available in the Public Works budget, Barry said. “We’re already short-staffed as it is, so I don’t want to lose another person,” he added.

The motion to suspend failed 3 to 1 when Stinson voted against it. A vote to suspend the rules must be unanimous, according to Town Attorney Greg Sobkowski. Stinson said he voted against because he prefers not to rush the process of decisions regarding taxpayer money.

The second ordinance, 2020-09, concerned proposed amendments to employee vacation time. There will be a second reading for both ordinances at the Council’s next meeting.

Beach Issues

Police Chief Jamie Spanier reported issues at the beaches continue, but he hopes they’ll get better soon. “In addition to our traffic woes, people are starting to cause problems,” Spanier said. “We’ve had to respond to disturbances, fights--almost all of them are in the state park. It’s doubly taxing when we’ve got stuff going on besides traffic.”

“We’d like to thank the State Police,” Spanier said. The State Police presence at Porter Beach has been helping a lot, he said, and Porter Beach isn’t seeing the same disturbances the State Park has. Lopez and Phillips both thanked the PPD for their hard work.

In related business, Porter resident Jennifer Klug suggested Duneland beaches should close in the interest of safety against COVID-19 after locals have observed an apparent influx of Illinois visitors. Chicago beaches remain closed in city-wide COVID-19 precautions.

Council Comments

“I want to thank Jamie and the Police Department for working their behinds off this weekend and every weekend,” Council Vice-president Phillips said. Phillips also noted he tested the route up to the Porter Beach during a recent weekday, and PPD officers were directing traffic to make things run smoothly.

Lopez thanked Stinson, the former Council President, for serving a combined seven years as President. Stinson announced he was stepping down from that role and Lopez was elected to replace him at the June 9 meeting.

Appointment to TIF Board

Lopez appointed Allison Hultman to the Porter Redevelopment Commission. The Redevelopment Commission, sometimes called a TIF board, manages Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds and the declaration of TIF areas and can grant economic incentives such as tax abatements to promote development in Town.

Lopez thanked all those who applied for the seat. He reported six or seven people applied.



Posted 6/24/2020






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