The Burns Harbor
Town Council will foot the bill for the mandated upgrades of emergency
service radio equipment to an 800 megahertz system with the help of the
Town’s Redevelopment Commission.
Department will receive nine new radios while the Fire Department will get
ten for about $2,700 per unit. That comes to $61,502, according to RDC
member Nick Loving who researched the radios.
The RDC on
Wednesday decided to allocate half the costs at $30,751 from its budget at
the request of the Town Council. The Council later then voted 4-1 to take
$30,751 from its local share of County local income tax money to complete
the purchase for the upgrades.
voting was Council member and RDC President Marcus Rogala who is one of the
Town’s volunteer firefighters.
The Town did not
budget for the radios when they adopted the 2017 budget. The Porter County
Commissioners last August were told by representatives of the state’s
Integrated Public Safety Commission and Motorola that the County and the
municipalities will need to transition to an 800 MHz as other counties in
the state have already done. The cost of the total project countywide is
estimated at $10 million.
have looked to the municipalities to help with the costs of purchasing
radios while the County works with the 911 Communications Center to put in
the infrastructure such as new radio towers at needed locations.
With the Town on
the hook, Council President Ray Poparad remarked that he is “not a very
happy camper about this.”
“This is mandated.
With what the State 911 board receives, they should foot the whole bill but
that’s not going to happen. We can’t leave our police and fire without
communications. The RDC has stepped up to the plate and has offered to give
half,” Poparad said.
At the RDC meeting,
non-voting member Brandon Kroft said he previously served on the Chesterton
Police and knew there had been talks for a long time on an 800 MHz system.
“We knew we were
switching to a bigger system that was more important and that there are
areas in the county that really need to be covered,” Kroft said, adding that
all communities are trying to come on board.
Meanwhile, at the
Council meeting, Fire Chief Bill Arney said that the current ambulance
contract with Superior Ambulance Services will come to an end on July 1
unless the Town makes a verbal agreement to renew the contract for another
Next year is when a
new contract will have to be negotiated, Arney said, which will probably see
higher costs. The costs don’t affect the Town necessarily as it is for those
taken by ambulance, Arney said. The Town probably can’t change the rates
because of billing by Medicare and Medicaid, he said.
“When we ran the
ambulance system, we had the ability to set our own rate which was a little
bit lower,” Arney said. “Next year, I would like to sit down with the
Council and talk about the contract when it comes up. Right now, I am okay
with it. We are working fine and the ambulance is up 24 hours a day.”
The Council will
take a vote on renewing the contract to June 2018 at its next meeting.
Also, Arney and
Building Commissioner Randal Lopez in their reports said that projects are
picking up in town.
“We are doing a lot
of projects digging and trenching as well as stormwater. We’re doing quite a
bit in several neighborhoods and on Westport Road. A lot of activity going
on,” Arney said.
activity is down, reported Town Marshall Mike Heckman.
In other reports,
Street Superintendent Pat Melton said his department next month will start
organized brush pickup every first and third Mondays.
The mowers and the
vacuum are also getting ready and sweeping will take place from April 24 to
The date for the
annual Spring Large Pickup Day is Thursday, May 18.
Melton also told
the Council the department has picked up a lot of trash, 48 large bags of
it. “It’s terrible. It’s ridiculous. Old Porter is the worst.”
The Park Department
is preparing for the Rebuilding Together Duneland Work Day on Saturday,
April 29, Park Board member Angie Scott told the Council.
A long discussion
followed of whether or not the Town could find the time and effort to break
up decaying concrete in the picnic shelters for the Work Day volunteers to
“It would need to
be busted up by the 29th so (volunteers) can be prepared to remove it. That
would be a huge expense we wouldn’t have to pay for,” Scott said.
The intention then
is to replace the old shelter with simpler ones, similar to those at
Chesterton’s Dogwood Park and the Westchester Bird Sanctuary, she said.
Kevin Tracy member agreed, “It’s a great opportunity.”
Melton said he
wasn’t sure if it was possible to get a backhoe to the locations because of
the shelter structures. Poparad and Council member Eric Hull discussed
potential solutions but agreed that there is not enough time in the next two
weeks for the street department to do the work.
The RTD volunteers
will work in other areas of Lakeland Park and help with construction on the
stairs down to the lake, Scott said.
Scott reminded the
Council that the Park’s Easter Egg Hunt is this Saturday.
Also, the Parks
Department is seeking sponsorships for the Footloose 5K event in late June.
short of where we were last year. If anyone has leads on any sponsors,
please let the Park Department know,” Scott said.
The Council in
other matters approved a proclamation declaring April Child Abuse Prevention
month in Burns Harbor.
read by Tracy, calls “upon all citizens, community agencies, religious
organizations, medical facilities and businesses to increase participation
in our efforts to prevent child abuse thereby strengthening the communities
in which we live.”