Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor council stops short of final ambulance OK

Back to Front Page






The Burns Harbor Fire Department took another step forward Wednesday on the road to operating an advanced-life-support ambulance.

The Town Council approved the purchase of two reconditioned, fully warranted medical diagnostic monitors for approximately $28,000 or half the usual cost.

Following a public hearing with no comment, councilmen also voted to appropriate $50,000 from the Rainy Day fund and $75,000 from Cumulative Capital Development fund for ambulance start-up as needed.

Local town businesses have donated about $50,000 for equipment and related expenses.

Final authorization to purchase an ambulance hasn’t been given, but the council told fire chief Bill Arney to advertise for paramedics to staff the ALS ambulance so their references can be submitted with the Fire Department’s application for ALS certification.

Following Wednesday’s more than two-hour council meeting, Arney said he’s not looking for the ALS rig to be put into service until after November if the final go-head is given.

The department currently operates a basic-life-support ambulance. ALS service allows 24-hour medics with additional training to administer drugs and do more life-saving procedures.

Also approved unanimously was an additional appropriation of $52,146 through a Homeland Security grant for various Fire Department equipment.

Reimbursement ideas sought

The council opted to seek a recommendation from the town’s Advisory Plan Commission on how to have zoning applicants pay the cost of town engineering and legal reviews tied to certain petitions and requests. The past practice of having the town pay the bills, then seek reimbursement, isn’t working.

Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said the town has spent $21,000 for the town’s contracted engineer to perform utility locates for town sewer lines, but only $700 has been collected. A past zoning applicant also is balking at paying over $10,000 for the town’s engineering review of the detailed petition.

Jordan said town money spent has to be budgeted and approved first, but such administrative fees are difficult to predict when more development is occurring.

Associate town attorney Charles Parkinson said, except for its PUD process, the town of Chesterton has the cost of engineering and legal reviews built into its application fee schedule. Chesterton has a full-time, in-house professional engineer.

Parkinson also said he has a concern when passing legal bills on to a third party for reimbursement because the bills may contain privileged attorney/client information.

Councilman Jeff Freeze, who is also Plan Commission president, said he hopes to have a recommendation for the council in October.

Compliant email coming

On a 5-0 vote the commission authorized technology consultant Joseph Grossbauer to secure the town’s use of the internet address and to set up a legally compliant email system allowing such communications to be retained, archived, retrieved, backed up and accessible as public records.

The town’s web address will be retained.

Town council members and Jordan each currently use different private email addresses for town communications.

Although up to 35 town officials and board members could be included in the new email system, start-up will be limited to the five council members and Jordan at this time.

The motion permitted paying up to $20 per person per month to use the Microsoft Office-hosted email system; Grossbauer’s fee for system configuration is an additional charge.

Jordan said having a local town server would cost less than using Microsoft; she also said the town hasn’t budgeted for what could be a nearly $800 monthly expense if all 35 people are tied to the system.

Grossbauer recommended against having a local server due to the town’s small size but later said he could research the matter more as well as negotiate a firm agreement with Microsoft. That arrangement would be month-to-month and any email stored would be transferred to the town if discontinued.

On another matter, the council set a 6 p.m. public workshop July 31 to begin 2013 budget preparation. A second workshop with department heads will be scheduled.

President Jim McGee said the council wants to look at the pay structure of each department. Member Mike Perrine said the council should be prepared to ask the state for an excess levy to collect more money due to the town’s recent growth. Up to 75 apartments currently are under construction.

The annual town-wide rummage sale was set for Aug. 17 and 18. A chairperson is needed to coordinate the popular event and to develop a map of participating households.


Posted 7/13/2012