When the Burns Harbor Town Council voted in September to send a letter of
conditional support for Indiana Flame Services’ application for a state
grant, there turned out to be a catch.
Member Jeff Freeze said Wednesday under closing council comments that it now
appears Indiana Flame, a primary contractor working at ArcelorMittal in
Burns Harbor, requires a local incentive to bring its research and
development department here from France.
A local commitment is required, said Freeze, for the Indiana Economic
Development Corp. to consider Indiana Flame for a training grant.
Eliot Weiner, the company’s director, asked the town for a non-binding
letter of support on Sept. 19; he said the company estimates it would hire
24 new full-time employees by 2015. At that time Freeze said no local
dollars were involved but might be in the future.
Wednesday, Freeze said there could be a significant personal property
increase tied to the R&D relocation so he put Weiner in touch with Cender &
Company, the town’s financial consultant, which put together scenarios for
five and 10-year tax abatements that could be discussed Dec. 12.
Council member Mike Perrine said it’s the town Redevelopment Commission that
hears tax-abatement applications. Freeze, RDC president, said he’ll call a
meeting of that board.
From the audience, former council member Ray Poparad asked why the town
would consider giving Indiana Flame tax abatement when it denied Mittal’s
request for an abatement extension. Council member Gene Weibl said the
steelmaker couldn’t give the town the transparency it sought and
negotiations reached an impasse.
In other business, the council voted 5-0 for final adoption of a new $4.12
per month hydrant fee to be paid on Indiana American Water Co. bills.
Residents who do not have IAWC service will not pay the fee; it funds
maintenance of 89 hydrants used for Burns Harbor fire protection. The fee
will increase a few cents for every hydrant the town adds as it develops.
Passing along the hydrant fee will free up just over $70,000 in the town
budget previously earmarked for hydrant maintenance. Perrine said the money
will be used to fund the Fire Department’s new advanced life support
ambulance service that began operations Nov. 3.
During Wednesday’s meeting the council voted 5-0 to pay ALS paramedics $16
per hour retroactive to that date. The 2012 salary ordinance also was
amended to designate $47,500 as the salary for the position of sergeant on
the Police Department.
Freeze reported town employees and elected officials now have new email
accounts using the email@example.com address. He also asked the council to
review a draft request for proposals to redesign the town’s website as a
better way to communicate with residents and others.
In other business:
• Building commissioner Bill Arney said clean up and mitigation is taking
place at the site of the former Standard Plaza on U.S. 20, and three persons
have expressed interest in purchasing an abandoned home at 1252 Westport Rd.
• Street Superintendent Randy Skalku said brush will no longer be picked up
on a regular basis but residents may call his office to schedule a
• Town marshal Michael Heckman said his department responded to 380
incidents in October including four crashes resulting in three personal
injury and one property damage. Arrests were six misdemeanors and three
felonies. Forty-five tickets were issued, 132 verbal and warning tickets
written; 82 assists and 26 reports taken. Police vehicles traveled 7,728
• As fire chief Arney reported firefighters responded to 31 calls last month
spending 20 hours and 9 minutes on emergency scenes. Firefighters spent 95
man hours training and on duty at the station. Calls included eight EMS
assists; one each citizen assist, fire alarm and brush fire; two each
hazmat, mutual aid to Portage and to Porter; and four responses each to
Mittal steel and investigations. Fire vehicles traveled 357 miles last
• Arney said the new ALS ambulance service is operating smoothly and
residents may see an ambulance being driven around town so new medics can
familiarize themselves with the neighborhoods.
• Residents have until Dec. 19 to drop off non-perishable food items at the
town hall, Street Department or fire station to fill Lions Club holiday
baskets for the needy. Food pick-up can be arranged by calling the Fire
• It was announced the Park Department will host a Christmas Camp Dec. 21
from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lakeland Park. Pre-registration is required.
• Persons wishing to serve on town boards or commissions are asked to submit
letters of intent to the town hall prior to Dec. 7. Vacancies will occur on
the Plan Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, the Park Board and the Plan