Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor sets April 11 hearing on proposed property tax hike

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Burns Harbor residents can have their say April 11 on a big jump in the tax rate for the cumulative capital development fund.

Meeting Wednesday, the Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution setting a maximum rate not to exceed $0.05 per $100 of assessed valuation for calendar years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The current town CCDF rate is $0.0059. The CCDF was established in 1989 as a non-reverting fund for capital purchases and improvements. In 1993-95 the rate was $.04 but council members said over time the rate has been lowered to a point Burns Harbor's is now 87 percent below the average CCD rate in Porter County and generates only $29,805 annually.

If the full $0.05 rate is approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, estimates are the CCDF levy might increase by $222,778 over this year's revenue.

The resolution establishing a higher CCDF rate can be reaffirmed, modified or rejected following next month's public hearing. If the decision is to proceed, the DLGF must receive by Aug. 2 the town's request, which includes collecting the maximum-allowable portion of the increase outside the restricted levy.

Town attorney Bob Welsh said the uses on which CCDF money can be spent are very broad.

Also April 11, the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission will meet at 6 p.m. at the town hall for 2012 reorganization. The RDC has yet to meet this year.

Of parks, technology, engineers

In other business, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Costa Dillon introduced himself to the council; the National Park Service owns land in Burns Harbor primarily along the Little Calumet River, and he said INDU is committed to improving the waterway for public use. Dillon described recreation as an almost-hidden economic driver for the local area.

Dillon said INDU's had a good relationship with the town Police and Fire Departments. Council president Jim McGee said it's been a pleasure working with INDU deputy superintendent Garry Traynham, who was present Wednesday.

Councilmen Jeff Freeze and Greg Miller are in the process of reviewing the town's technology. Freeze said better controls are needed to archive government emails and he explained the options, additional upgrades and pricing associated with various plans.

The council authorized bringing in computer consultant Kurt Jordan on the project.

Freeze said it's important that emails are preserved so a constituent complaint, suggestion or concern isn't lost. "This way when a council person's term is up, the emails don't travel with them."

In other business, after considering several firms the council voted 5-0 to retain Global Engineering and Land Surveying of Michigan City as the town engineer at Global's 2011 rates. Freeze said a larger firm with specific expertise may be hired for certain projects.

Also retained and a contract was approved with Cender & Company as the town's financial advisor.

Ambulance donations mount

Councilman Mike Perrine announced fire chief Bill Arney has been soliciting donations to enable the Fire Department to operate an advanced-life-support ambulance. The department currently is certified and offers basic-life-support ambulance service.

To date over $30,000 in donations has been raised and will be deposited in a designated fund and returned if the ALS project doesn't succeed.

The ambulance plan was discussed last month as part of development of the 2012 salary ordinance, which was adopted Wednesday on final reading giving full-time town employees 4 percent across-the-board raises. They are also eligible for longevity pay in the amount of $100 per year of town employment.

On other matters:

Arney said the Fire Department received a $54,000 FEMA grant to replace dated hoses and nozzles. The council OK'd spending $2,400 in CCDF funds for the local grant match.

In February, firefighters responded to 23 calls including eight EMS assists and six vehicle accidents spending 11 hours and 38 minutes at emergency scenes. Forty-seven firefighters spent a total 192 man-hours in training and duty hours, and fire vehicles logged 403 miles last month.

As building commissioner, Arney said the first four apartment buildings at The Village have been released for construction.

Town marshal Craig Barnes reported Burns Harbor police responded to 651 incidents in February including five vehicle crashes, all property damage. Fifteen arrests were made --- 12 of them misdemeanors and three felonies. Tickets written numbered 103, verbal warnings 50, and written warnings 276. Police vehicles traveled 7,890 last month.

Barnes also acknowledged the receipt of letters of commendation for assistance provided the Portage and Ogden Dunes departments by himself and Burns Harbor officers Adam Zosso and Mike Chandler.

Street superintendent Randy Skalku said because of the unseasonable weather his crew will be picking up brush if residents call his office to request collection.

Park Board member Marcus Rogala said the new dog park at Lakeland Park is proving popular, and that Earth Day will be celebrated there April 21 with a fun fair, learning stations and games/crafts.

Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said NIPSCO has raised the town's cost for streetlights by almost $250 per month and the line item will be about $2,000 short this year.

Jordan said town contracts that do not already have such language must conform to the new federal E-Verify regulations. The program determines the employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.

Council members approved a 2012 contract with the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District to lease drop-off recycling bins at the Street Department for resident use. Burns Harbor doesn't have curbside recycling.

Perrine was elected to be the town's environmental liaison as the need arises.


Posted 3/16/2012