Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor TIF board allocates funds for ambulance worker salaries

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The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission earmarked more funds for Town ambulance service at its meeting Wednesday night.

Fire Chief Bill Arney said his 26 ambulance employees work approximately 1,428 hours a month, and the total cost of ambulance staff payroll each month is around $20,000. As of Wednesday, there wasn’t enough money in the payroll account to finish out June.

The RDC has already pledged a total of $100,000 for an addition to the fire department, upfront costs for starting Town ambulance service, and ambulance staff salaries since the Town ended its contract with Superior after the company proposed a rate hike last summer. Certain expenses were funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money, as allowed by law, while the salaries were funded from Tax abatement fees.

Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said the RDC would have to make an additional appropriation to use the funds that the ambulance service has brought in through billing, and the process of advertising the additional and holding a public hearing would take the Board to its July meeting.

RDC member Ray Poparad motioned for the RDC to allocate another $25,000 to keep the salaries funded while the Board goes through the additional appropriation process. The Board approved.

Jordan also noted the RDC members can decide during budgeting this year if they want to set up a pathway for ambulance worker salaries to be directly funded from the proceeds of the ambulance service.

RDC President Eric Hull said, though the ambulance service is bringing in money, it takes at least 90 days for the Town to get a check after a bill is sent. “The ambulance service is billing out quite a bit, I understand, and it takes a long time for the part where the checks hit the bank,” Hull said.

Poparad noted the spreadsheets from the company that handles billing show improvements. “Each month the payments are coming in a little bit quicker,” Poparad said.

The RDC is committed to maintaining the Town ambulance service, though it isn’t yet funding itself, according to Hull. “We knew what we were getting into when we started this,” Hull said. “We knew this was going to be something we’d have to work through, and we still don’t know all the hurdles.”

Good of the Order

Burns Harbor resident Sara Oudman said she was concerned about Food Truck Square after the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s posts on social media about this month’s vendors got complaints from people who weren’t impressed with the lineup for Wednesday, June 12.

Hull said the Chamber has been struggling to get the same vendors it had last year--even at the Chesterton European Market--because it appears many of its former vendors are inactive or have gone out of business.

“My opinion at first was there was some lack of effort, but after doing a little homework, I think it’s more than someone not doing their job,” Hull said.

Oudman suggested the Chamber should be more open with the public about problems finding vendors so people don’t assume it’s from lack of effort.

Other Updates

Hull reported Holladay Properties, the master developer on the Town Center project, is putting together a timeline for their work. Going forward, representatives from Holladay will come to RDC meetings when they have something to report.

In other business, Hull asked RDC Vice-president Brad Enslen to look into improving wayfinding signs around Town. “A lot of the signs in Town are worn out, or falling apart, hidden by trees, or pointing to places that no longer exist. We’d like to see what it would cost or what it would take to replace a lot of those signs,” Hull said.

Enslen will work with Street Commissioner Pat Melton to find out which signs are inaccurate and come up with a plan to improve them. Enslen said he leaned toward keeping the same style of signs Burns Harbor has now. A lot may change in the coming years, so Enslen said now may not be the best time to invest in new or expensive signs.

Jordan also reported Wednesday that RDC coffers would be renewed Friday, when tax abatement fees and TIF revenue were scheduled to arrive. Jordan said the RDC would gain $276,070.89 in tax abatement fees from Praxair and ArcelorMittal and $501,348.13 in TIF money.




Posted 6/10/2019





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