Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor approves appeal process for sewer fee, tables new sanitary board

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Burns Harbor residents not happy with their sewer fees can now do something about it.

The Town Council voted 5-0 to approve an ordinance to add a section in the sewer rate ordinance for an appeal process. Residents who pay the fee can file an appeal with the sanitary board’s secretary up to one year under the circumstances in which it is based. Those appealing are asked to include any documentary evidence with the completed appeal form.

The Sanitary Board will hear the appeal at a public meeting and must issue a decision within sixty days of the hearing.

The Council tabled second reading on another ordinance to change appointments on the sanitation board at the request of Council President Ray Poparad. Poparad said the board, which is currently comprised of Council members and a representative of the steel mills, will decide on a project at the sanitary building and would rather have it be their responsibility than the citizens the Council intends to appoint.

“We need to finish what we started,” Poparad said.

Council member Marcus Rogala added that the current board should also decide the proposed budget for next year.

The ordinance would put three citizens on the sanitary board along with a Council member and the steel representative.

Since the ordinance did not get a vote Wednesday, the Council refrained from making board appointments at this time.

On a similar note, Council members Toni Biancardi, Rogala and Poparad will make up the Town’s stormwater board which oversees the duties related to the MS4 Stormwater Quality program. The board has met sporadically through the year but now plans to meet the same night as the sanitary board.

The Council approved three resolutions. One was to authorize Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan to make payments on certain claims prior to their confirmation. Another was to transfer general maintenance funds and the other was to put in internal controls or a “materiality threshold policy.” The latter is a change in state law that requires Town employees be educated on how the Town handles its money.

Tax abatement compliance forms

In other business, Poparad said he would like to see businesses receiving tax abatements to have their CF-1 statement reviews be given to the Town instead of filing it at the County.

The forms are to state whether or not the businesses have met the conditions agreed to at the time the abatement was granted, such as number of jobs created and additional salaries.

Poparad urged the council to get a resolution in place so that the Town would receive the forms and then give notice to the County for their files.

One abatement form has come in from Mittal Steel that has met the provisions in terms of expanded pay roll and employees, Jordan said.

Two Council meetings?

The new council has brought up a few times over its first month in office whether to meet twice a month as it did years ago.

Biancardi said the Council should consider the costs of holding an additional meeting every month, such as the cost for its attorney. The current contract is for one meeting per month and then an hourly rate for anything additional.

From the audience, resident Sarah Oudman said the Town officials are busy throughout the month with meetings of Town boards and said more meetings would mean “losing more quality time for other things.”

Paulene Poparad, also sitting in the audience, wondered if there were ways to speed up the meetings like giving a synopsis of proposed ordinances rather than having to read them aloud. The Council meetings usually last well over an hour, sometimes two.

Council member Erik Hull said it would be easier to prepare for one meeting a month rather than two and he would rather sit for one meeting to get business done.

Poparad said having two meetings per month doesn’t mean they will go quicker. It depends on what’s on the agenda.

The Council will look at what the costs and benefits for a second meeting would be at their meeting next month.

Mosquito fogging

Summer is around the corner and so are mosquitoes.

The Town has paid $700 three times a year for mosquito fogging traditionally. Council member Andy Bozak asked the audience if they thought the foggings made a difference. At least three members and Fire Chief Bill Arney said they do.

The Council approved the costs for at least one fogging at an amount not to exceed $1,000.

In other matters:

-- The Council approved a contract with Umbaugh & Associates at a cost not to exceed $7,000 to evaluate the Town’s TIF areas. The company, which will be paid with funds from the Redevelopment Commission’s budget, will look at parcels that had previously been discarded from the TIF and determine if it would now be of benefit to add them back in.

-- Poparad announced that June 30 is the deadline to turn in applications for the Burns Harbor Scholarship fund. Any resident who is enrolled in a form of secondary education is eligible, added Jordan.

-- The Town is seeking volunteers to join the committee for the Town’s upcoming rummage sale.



Posted 5/12/2016




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