Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton council undecided on percentage of employee raises in 2019

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The Chesterton Town Council is not yet prepared to give Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela guidance on raises for municipal employees in 2019.

At their meeting Monday night, Kuziela asked members, as she begins to prepare next year’s budget, what percentage of raise she should “shoot for.”

Members, however, begged off for the moment. “I’d like to consider that, rather than come up with a number right now,” replied Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “I don’t want to start throwing percentages around without due consideration.”

In April the council unanimously approved across-the-board raises of 4 percent for all employees not in the Police or Fire departments. Police officers and firefighters received variable raises according to rank, in an effort to align take-home more nearly with that paid by other municipalities in this “market area,” that is, Porter, Valparaiso, and Portage.

Those raises were made possible by a number of moves:

* An increase in the monthly brush and leaf collection fee, as assessed on sanitary sewer bills, from $1 to $2.

* An increase in the dedicated property-tax rate used to fund Cumulative Capital Improvement--typically used for technology acquisition--from $0.0029 per $100 of assessed valuation to $0.0059, to offload some of those acquisitions from the General Fund and clear space for salaries.

* Dipping into the town’s share of revenues from the state cigarette tax and the state riverboat tax.

* And a “payment in lieu of tax” from the Chesterton Utility. As a public utility, the Chesterton Utility does not pay property taxes but under state law a municipality may collect from a utility an annual amount equivalent to what it would pay in property taxes were it a private entity.


In other business, members voted unanimously to approve a settlement agreement with Chesterton Police Cpl. Joe Kantowski, who was accused by his wife, on Sept. 17, 2015, of pointing a handgun at her during an argument in their kitchen about her infidelity. In March a jury acquitted Kantowski of the criminal charge but he was still facing a disciplinary hearing before the Police Commission and has been on unpaid administrative leave from the CPD since Sept. 23, 2015.

Under the terms of the settlement, Kantowski will receive $20,560 in back pay, while he has agreed to resign his position and release the town from any further liability in the matter.

Think Car

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to declare surplus the town’s electric “Think Car,” which the not-for-profit South Shore Clean Cities donated to Chesterton some time ago.

Town Manager Bernie Doyle told the council that after several years of service, during which time the Think Car “saved us quite a bit of money,” it “started failing on us,” and is now “nonfunctioning.”

Doyle did say that the Michigan City Police Department has a Think Car of its own, and that it would be able to cannibalize Chesterton’s for spare parts. The council was happy to pass the vehicle on to the MCPD.

Art Fair Banners

Members also voted unanimously to authorize the organizers of the Chesterton Art Fair--Aug. 4-5 in Dogwood Park--to place banners promoting the event on East Porter Ave. and at the intersection of North Calumet Road and Indian Boundary Road, starting on July 18, provided that the Duneland Chamber of Commerce has changed its plans to place its own banners at those locations during that time period.

The Chamber was originally authorized to place its banners to promote Party in the Park, also scheduled for Aug. 4, but has since decided to merge that event with the Taste of Duneland--formerly organized by the Duneland Business Initiative Group--on Sept. 1.



Posted 7/11/2018




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