Chesterton Tribune


Mittal contractor asks BH for abatement to move R and D headquarters from France

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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 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 collection.

• 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 miles.

• 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 month.

• 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 Department.

• 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 Commission.



Posted 11/15/2012