These are the basic
numbers and facts:
The Town of
Porter’s monthly stormwater fee of $4 per residence generates annual
revenues of around $200,000.
Management Board, meanwhile, has a master plan calling for necessary
infrastructure repairs and upgrades with an estimated price tag of $970,000
The stormwater fee
hasn’t been raised since it was first established, 10 years ago, in 2006.
And remains the lowest fee among the region’s MS4 communities, with the next
lowest--$6--paid by the residents of Chesterton and Crown Point; and the
highest--$11--paid by the residents of Valparaiso.
So the president of
the Stormwater Management Board, Daniel Colbert--reported to the Porter Town
Council at its meeting Tuesday night.
a 50-percent fee hike, which would bring it to $6 per month, for a total
annual increase of $24.
Greg Stinson made it clear that Tuesday’s discussion was, at this point, an
“informal” one. The Stormwater Management Board would be the body
responsible for drafting a fee hike ordinance, calling a public hearing on
it, endorsing it, and forwarding it to the council for final action.
Having said that,
though, Stinson suggested the view that a fee hike might, in the end, be
necessary. “Nobody likes to see the fee go up,” he said. “It’s an additional
$24 per year. But that would still put it at the low end of the spectrum.”
Stinson added that
the Stormwater Management Board over the last few years has been pursuing
smaller, less expensive, bite-size projects because the larger ones would
drain its resources. “I think it’s time to revisit this thing,” he said,
then added that important questions remain, including whether a 50-percent
hike would be too much, too little, or just about right; and when one should
be enacted, immediately or on Jan. 1, 2017.
Stinson noted too
that the Stormwater Management Board is responsible now for much more than
simply drainage infrastructure. It also administrates and enforces the
federally mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program,
which is aimed at reducing the amount of pollution and waste which enters
ditches, streams, and lakes by way of runoff.
Colbert, for his
part, indicated that a $2 bump, in his view, is a fairly small increment but
would still generate sufficient revenues to allow his board to pursue some
higher priced infrastructure improvements, possibly supplemented with TIF or
“We’d still be the
cheapest game in town,” Stinson observed.
The council finally
agreed to do this: have its contracted financial advisor, Umbaugh, run the
numbers on a fee hike sufficient to tackle the master plan. “Just
realistically, what would work to allow us gradually to knock this down,” as
Stinson put it.
One Porter resident
did urge the council to approach the stormwater fee with caution. Jim
Waggoner, speaking from the floor at the beginning of the meeting, said that
he hoped members would be mindful of the fees residents already pay not only
for stormwater service but sanitary sewer service as well.
In other business,
Director of Development Michael Barry reported that the paving project on
the southwest side of town--including Marquette Road and Krieger Street--is
“pretty much done.”
“And it looks
fantastic,” he said.
New Dump Truck
voted unanimously to authorize Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer to
pursue the purchase of a new single-axle snowplow dump truck, at an
estimated cost of $160,000 to $170,000.
As part of that
vote, Brueckheimer was also authorized to seek quotes from local banks on a
five-year loan. “We definitely need a new truck,” Stinson said.
Members also voted
unanimously to approve on first reading an ordinance to create a fund into
which it will deposit its $125,919 Local Option Income Tax disbursement from
Per Indiana Senate
Act 67, 75 percent of that amount must be used for road improvements. The
balance may be used for rainy day needs or any other legal purpose.
unanimously as well to enter general services contracts with MCR Partners
for grant work; and with Abonmarche for land surveying.
Both firms will
perform those duties, when required, for the Redevelopment Commission.
Stinson took a
moment at the end of the meeting to congratulate St. Patrick Catholic School
and Chesterton Middle School for earning 4-Star ratings from the Indiana
Department of Education.
“It’s always nice
to see local schools recognized for academic excellence,” Stinson said.