on whether Burns Harbor should switch to primary elections were heard before
the Town Council voted 4-1 to accept the change.
At its meeting
Wednesday, the Council gave second reading on an ordinance to adopt a
primary election system for town elections, eliminating the need for
conventions to nominate candidates.
The ordinance was
suggested by the previous Town Council which in December voted 5-0 to move
to primary elections. Towns with population under 3,500 residents are by
state statute to hold conventions in a contested election unless the Town
Council passes a measure establishing primaries.
The push to
transition to primaries began after last August’s Democrat convention where
participants were basically shut in the Fire Department for three hours on a
muggy summer’s day.
President Ray Poparad said the residents he’s spoken to say they wish to
hold on to conventions because the candidates are given time to speak their
views to the voters prior to voting. He also argued holding a primary would
mean higher costs for the Town.
From the audience,
resident Phyllis Constantine said the weather conditions were not the fault
of those holding the convention and lodged her opinion that “our town’s not
big enough for a primary.”
Council member Eric
Hull said there was confusion among younger voters about the process of the
convention and felt they were more familiar with a primary election format.
“I believe it’s a good way moving forward,” he said, adding that the
previous Council also shared that view.
Council member Andrew Bozak who said the younger voters didn’t like having
to be “locked in” at the convention as some had jobs to get to.
Oudman said she favored primary elections because more employers are willing
to give workers time off to vote.
All Council members
including Marcus Rogala and Toni Biancardi voted in favor of the ordinance
except Poparad, who dissented.
The next town
election will be in 2019.
unanimously approved second reading on an ordinance amending the definition
of an assembly for the Town to better oversee public gatherings.
amending text in the Town’s Sewer Rate ordinance will be kicked back to the
sanitation board for it to discuss language regarding deposits.
the year, the Council named appointments to various Town boards.
For the Plan
Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, Poparad selected Democrat Gordon
McCormick as his presidential appointment. The Council voted 5-0 to appoint
Republican Krista Tracy to the Plan Commission.
Also the Council
appointed Republican Kevin Tracy and Democrat Timothy Minier to the BZA.
Chosen to serve on
the Park Board by the Council were Democrat Kyline Tumblin, Republican
Amanda Sucku, and Democrat Angie Scott.
picked by the Council to serve as the Town’s representative on the Shared
Ethics Advisory Commission.
In reports from
department heads, Fire Chief Bill Arney said the Fire Department responded
to 23 calls in December with 23 hours and 25 minutes on-scene for emergency
calls. There were 58 training hours with 6 duty hours for a total of 64 man
hours. Fire vehicles traveled a total of 1,428 miles.
Arney provided an
end-of-the-year report to the Council for 2015. A total of 399 calls were
responded to, 232 hours and 47 minutes were spent on calls, 321 duty hours,
946 training hours for a total of 1,267 man hours. November was the busiest
month with 45 hours on duty. Vehicles traveled a total of 22,740 miles last
Also, Arney said
the town has received a $10,000 portion of a grant through the Federal
Emergency Management Agency to acquire new air packs. The grant came through
the Portage Fire Department.
Arney said he will
try for a second grant that would assist in replacing a water tanker.
Commissioner, Arney said five building permits were issued. The building
department made eight inspections and issued one violation.
Town Marshal Mike
Heckman showed up later to the meeting but no police report was read aloud.
Bozak said he and Heckman are working on the Police Department’s Facebook
page to get more involved with the public and “help catch bad guys.”
Bozak said Heckman
is interested in asking the Council to consider raising the hourly pay for
some of his deputy positions. Poparad asked that the request be put on the
agenda for the Council’s meeting in February.
As liaison to the
Street Department, Poparad said he’s looked through equipment and noticed a
lot of “obsolete (items) not being used” and proposed having a town auction
in the next few months.
He asked for all
department heads to check for any outdated equipment that could be put up
In another matter,
Biancardi said she wishes to start up a 501c3 foundation for the Burns
Harbor Parks, similar to Valparaiso and Portage, which can collect tax
deductible donations on cash and accept land.
The Council agreed
it is something to look into as it is likely to raise more money for the
Rogala, who is
liaison to the Parks Department, said the route for the Duneland Y’s
Duneland Race Series through the town has been approved. The race will be
Saturday, Feb. 27.
This Saturday, the
parks will be hosting Coffee and Canvas at Lakeland Park from 1-3 p.m., he
Poparad said after reading the estimate of costs to demolish and remove the
former police firing range, he advised that it is best not to move ahead.
asked if the range could be opened again so that residents could take
classes on how to properly use a firearm.
Poparad said the
Town would face too many regulations and costs to do that and, given the
complaints from residents when it was open, feels adamantly it should remain
“The cost would be
astronomical. To not disturb it costs nothing,” he said.
Poparad did ask
that brush nearby be cleaned up by the street department.
In other business:
-- The Council
extended its congratulations to Officer Tim Lucas for being the top police
officer in the County in making DUI arrests.
-- The Parks
Department Donation fund accumulated $26,688 from last year’s events such as
the Footloose 5k, Pumpkin Dash 5k and also the brick sales for the walk
front of Lakeland Park’s gazebo. The funds will be returned to the parks to
hold events for this year.
-- Donations for
the Fire Department reached $1,671 last year. The Council agreed 4-0 to
accept the 2016 Fire Service agreement. Recusing himself from voting was
Rogala, who is a member of the Town’s fire service.