Chesterton Tribune

Jim McGee leads Burns Harbor Town Council for now

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Jim McGee was elected unanimously to lead the newly seated Burns Harbor Town Council for 2012.

Until April, that is.

Council members reorganized Wednesday with Greg Miller’s motion to select McGee as president “for the first quarter” of 2012. When councilman Mike Perrine asked why, Jeff Freeze said that will give himself, Miller and Gene Weibl as the new members time to get their feet wet and go from there.

Perrine and McGee each have served on the council for multiple terms, McGee often serving as president as he did in 2011. Freeze unanimously was elected vice-president for three months.

McGee announced liaison assignments: himself to the Police Department; Perrine to the Street and Fire Departments; Weibl to the Building Department; Miller to the Park Department; and Freeze to planning and economic development.

Freeze later was named as Burns Harbor’s representative on the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the Duneland Economic Development Corp.

Freeze, McGee and Weibl were named as municipal appointments to the Advisory Plan Commission. Marcus Rogala was chosen to replace Freeze as a citizen member of the commission, and Rogala also was named to the town Park Board after the council unanimously waived the requirement for affiliation by political parties for that board.

Park Board member Clark Hamilton said Rogala, a Democrat, was the only person to apply for what formerly had been Ron Day’s Republican seat, and the Park Board supports Rogala’s appointment to assure a quorum is available to meet.

Named to the town Board of Zoning Appeals by McGee was Tracy Freeze replacing Weibl on the BZA; also appointed there was Timothy Minier replacing Gordon McCormick.

McGee named Jeff Freeze to the town’s Economic Development Commission, and the council tapped Miller also for the EDC. The council recommended resident Brad Enslen to the Porter County Council as the third EDC member. Jan. 5 the County Council named former Burns Harbor Town Council member Bob Poparad as its choice for the town EDC.

After the meeting associate town attorney Charles Parkinson said state law enables the County Council to “nominate” a town EDC member but not to appoint them.

The five Burns Harbor Town Council members serve as the town Redevelopment Commission with no citizen members although a Duneland School Board member has a non-voting seat. Freeze, Weibl, Miller and resident Jim Constantine were named to the Sanitation Board. Perrine, McGee and Weibl comprise the Stormwater Management Board.

In other business, the council asked town attorneys to research whether the town can make adjustments to its Cumulative Captial Development Fund. Freeze and Miller said in new-member orientation meetings they attended through the Indiana Assoc. of Cities and Towns they learned Burns Harbor’s CCDF is very underfunded compared to area communities.

Officials declared potential or possibly perceived conflicts of interest for the year.

Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said her husband sometimes performs paid IT work for the town; Perrine’s wife is on the Park Board; Freeze’s wife is on the BZA and he is a board member of The Village subdivision POA; and Weibl is employed by ArcelorMittal.

When Perrine said he sometimes peforms free HVAC repairs for the town hall, Parkinson said the donation should be documented in writing.

The Town Council adopted a Park Department salary ordinance for 2012 under suspension of the rules. Weibl asked Hamilton that the Park Board provide the council with a copy of the hours park director Kim Burton spends at the park; Hamilton said she puts in countless unpaid hours. Burton will receive $14,162 this year as director plus a $60 per-month phone allowance.

Neither the previous nor current council has yet adopted a 2012 salary ordinance for remaining town employees. Members indicated a workshop may be needed. Resident Gayle Van Loon asked if the council will return to meeting twice a month instead of once, the policy since 2002; the council was non-committal.

Miller said he’ll look into the lack of an email contact system for town officials and report back.



Posted 1/12/2012