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Burns Harbor looks to crack down on unpaid ordinance violation fees

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Burns Harbor Town Council is exploring ways it can get businesses neglecting to pay outstanding ordinance violation fees to respond.

Council member Kevin Tracy said he was interested in addressing ways of enforcement after speaking with Building Commissioner Randal Lopez about property owners that have been “chronically ignoring” ordinance violations.

“There have been these companies, I think we know who they are. I don’t need to say their names but I don’t know what our legal abilities are,” Tracy told his colleagues at Wednesday’s Council meeting. He asked if it was possible to deny these properties their business license renewal.

Council President Ray Poparad said even if the Town tries to penalize them, they are likely to keep doing business. He said he doesn’t know of any legal ways to get them to comply other than taking the case to court, which can incur attorney fees.

Fire Chief and previous Town Building Commissioner Bill Arney said there have been times when the Town has taken delinquent businesses to court to get them to pay violation fees and they still fail to pay the next time. The penalty gets paid but the violations don’t get fixed, he said.

“I agree. Fight the fight if the businesses are willingly overrunning us, but just holding their business license up, I don’t know if that (will work),” Arney said.

Council member Toni Biancardi said that the Town can fine the businesses up to $10,000 if they don’t comply with the ordinance.

Lopez asked if he should continue to send letters about the violations and fines if they are continually ignored. He asked if the Town can lien the property. Town Attorney Clay Patton said that is possible if the business owns the property but not if it is leasing the property.

Town Marshal Mike Heckman said he knows there is a judge who handles cases of outstanding ordinance violations in December. Poparad said Lopez should “round-up” all the violations by businesses and take them to court then to see what happens.

Return check policy

In another matter, Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan said she’s run into a situation where a payment made by check by a payer and their spouse has bounced. The Town has a return check policy that falls under its Sanitation Department, Jordan said but asked Patton if it was possible to apply that for the whole Town code.

Patton said it wouldn’t since it is specific to sanitation. The Town would need to draft an ordinance to apply a return check policy to other departments.

Poparad said he will leave the return check policy on the Council’s agenda for next month to look at a draft.

Fire Camp

Arney said that the Fire Camp was canceled this year but his department intends to have it next year. “It has not gone away forever. Unfortunately our man power was down and we could not do it this year,” Arney said.

The Fire Department’s report for June reported 45 calls were responded to, 37 of which were EMS response calls. Seven calls were for vehicle accidents, two industrial fires and one residential fire. Total hours on scene for emergency calls were 20 hours and 32 minutes.

Fire vehicles traveled a total of 2,009 miles. There were 60.5 hours spent on training and 10 duty hours for a total of 75.5 man hours.

Arney said the Fire Department’s Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser will be Oct. 21 this year.

Abandoned home

Lopez had an update on the abandoned home in the 1100 Block of Ind. 149. The owner has been contacted and a neighbor is interested in purchasing the property and demolishing the house, Lopez said.

Lopez said they are working to resolve the issues by Sept. 1. He told the Council in June that the home was found abandoned in conditions that were hazardous for human habitation, causing a safety issue.

Meanwhile, Lopez said it’s been a busy month for building in town. “We’ve got a lot of projects going on and doing well,” he said.

Parks

Park Board representative Kaylane Tumblin told the Council that the department has not received bids yet for the picnic shelters but those will be coming in soon.

Tumblin also said the beach at Lakeland Park will be open on weekends through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Footloose 5k is scheduled for June 23 next year.

CCD rate

Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan reported that the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has approved and reset the Town’s Cumulative Capital Development Fund tax rate at four cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

In May, the Council voted to increase the rate to the maximum of four cents after it had diminished to 3.04 cents per $100 of AV. The Town has used the CCD fund mainly for capital projects and equipment purchases.

Based on the assessed value for last year, Jordan said the Town would receive about $54,000 extra from the CCD rate reset.

Town Picnic Aug. 26

Biancardi reminded residents that the Town Picnic is coming up on Saturday, Aug. 26, which will kick off at 5 p.m. at Lakeland Park.

“The entire Duneland Community is invited to join us for our 50th Anniversary. There is lots of fun stuff planned,” said Biancardi. More details can be found on the Town’s Facebook page, she said.

2018 budget

At the end of the meeting, the Council agreed to set a public hearing for the Town’s proposed 2018 budgets at its September meeting. The Council hosted a budget workshop last week with the department heads and was satisfied with advertising the figures proposed in the budget.

 

 

Posted 8/11/2017

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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