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
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.
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
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.
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
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.”