Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor clerk-treasurer gets to vote when town council deadlocks

Back to Front Page






Burns Harbor clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan broke a tie Tuesday that resulted in denial of a police officer’s request to donate 24 hours of his paid sick leave to the town marshal.

Town Council members Mike Perrine and president Jim McGee voted no on the request; members Toni Biancardi and Cliff Fleming voted yes. Louis Bain was absent. Jordan voted no.

Council members did agree, however, that the town ordinance allowing employees to donate their paid vacation/sick leave to another employee in eight-hour increments needs to be reviewed.

McGee said he thought the ordinance was intended to be used in case of an extraordinary illness, injury, condition or impairment of a severe nature. An example given was when the former Street Department superintendent was involved in a devastating motorcycle accident.

Fleming said he doesn’t want the council to be a health-monitoring board; an employee should obtain a written statement from a doctor indicating he/she has a contagious disease, or shouldn’t come to work because they are too sick to perform, he said.

The council debated whether shingles, measles or other illnesses would be considered serious enough to warrant invoking the ordinance’s provisions.

Associate town attorney Charles Parkinson said guidance can be found in how serious medical conditions are defined under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Fleming said towns can offer long-term disability insurance to employees to cover extended absences.

Perrine said he didn’t think the pending police request was how the council intended the town ordinance to be applied. If the request had been granted, the pay scale for the donated hours would have been at the donating employee’s hourly wage, not the receiving employee’s higher pay.

In another police matter, the council voted 4-0 to accept the $15,589 proposal from Chester Inc. for new police computer hardware; vehicle laptops; and enhanced system security, networking and back-up.

Tentative streetlight accord

After months of delay in getting enough council members present so Fleming could recuse himself to speak as developer of The Village in Burns Harbor subdivision, the remaining council members finally approved an agreement regarding street light replacement there, but it took two votes.

As proposed, the town would be responsible at its expense to maintain, repair and replace the wiring, conduit, junction boxes, bulbs and ballasts for the streetlights located in the dedicated public rights-of-way in the neo-traditional subdivision.

The Village in Burns Harbor Property Owners Association Inc. agrees at its expense to maintain, repair and replace the more-costly decorative streetlight poles and lighting globes should they be damaged. Perrine asked if the POA has enough money to honor its obligations, and McGee asked if Fleming was authorized to act on the POA’s behalf.

Perrine and Biancardi voted yes to approve the agreement but it failed when McGee voted no as three affirmative votes were needed. McGee asked that a POA representative attend the January council meeting.

Perrine said it’s in the town’s best interest to be sure it’s well lit so he moved again to accept the agreement with an amendment that the POA post a surety bond or provide other evidence that it has the financial capability to pay for light replacement if needed.

If the POA doesn’t agree, Perrine said, there’s no agreement. Vote was 3-0 to approve on those conditions.

Historical donation welcomed

Resident Tyler DeMar told the council the Westchester Township History Museum has offered to donate to the town some portions its current History of Burns Harbor exhibit after it closes Jan. 31. No items on temporary loan from private sources would be included.

The council welcomed the offer. Said Perrine, “It’s the heritage of the community and we should preserve that. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Perrine moved that money be earmarked to display and preserve the donations properly, but no one had any idea how much that would be. Fleming suggested the council try to conduct its January meeting at the history museum, located in the Brown Mansion, to view the items.

In other business the council approved over $17,000 in additional appropriations, most grant funds that had been received during the year.

Council members also unanimously approved a temporary $6,175 loan from the Rainy Day fund to the Park Fund to cover operating costs while awaiting late property tax distributions from Porter County; the money will be repaid upon receipt.

Another 4-0 vote saw the council again direct the Police Department to submit letters for any full- or part-time Burns Harbor officer who hasn’t yet certified they have body armor to use when on duty. If letters aren’t on file, the officer doesn’t work, said Perrine.

He also congratulated Jordan on the good report the town received following its state audit for the years 2008/2009. “The lack of problems reflects on the good job she does through the year.”




Posted 12/22/2010