Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton looking to buy new fire engine

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The Chesterton Fire Department’s fleet currently has two engines: it’s go-to vehicle, the workhorse, a 2000 model already 14 years old; and a back-up engine, a 1992 model, getting a little gray at 22 years old.

What the CFD doesn’t have is an engine replacement plan, along the lines of the dump-truck replacement plan which the Street Department does its best to follow.

At its meeting Monday night, the Town Council took a step in the direction of remedying that lack, by voting 5-0 to authorize Fire Chief Mike Orlich to consult with legal and prepare specs for a new engine, which would be the first one acquired under a proposed seven-year plan.

How exactly to pay for it--with an estimated price tag of $450,000--is, of course, the issue.

The Westchester Township Board has committed to make the first two annual payments on a new engine, up to $65,000 per year, Orlich told members. And, he suggested, in the following years the annual payment which the township makes to the town for fire protection service--an amount usually in the neighborhood of $30,000 and customarily deposited straight into the General Fund--could be applied instead to the engine, with the balance coming from Cumulative Capital Development (CCD).

Member Nick Walding, R-3rd, suggested that “it makes sense” for the CFD “actually to use the township money.”

Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, advised caution, however, as shifting $30,000 every year from the General Fund to the CFD could possibly impose a hardship on some other department.

CCD, meanwhile, is a fund with a dedicated property-tax rate used exclusively for the purchase of emergency vehicles. But the CFD shares CCD moneys with the Chesterton Police Department and some of those moneys are right now paying off the ladder truck.

Members agreed, therefore, that a great deal more financial data are needed before Orlich gets the go-ahead to advertise for bids on a new engine.

The council’s support for an engine replacement plan, as Member Jim Ton, R-1st, put it, “is a conceptual position subject to additional scrutiny.”

But Ton called Orlich’s proposal “very proactive.”

Re: The Facade Program

In other business, members voted 5-0 at Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela’s recommendation to declare a one-year moratorium on the town’s facade program, which makes low-interest loans to businesses for the purpose of sprucing up storefronts.

Kuziela said that the program, which hasn’t been updated since created in the 1980s, needs a thorough-going face lift itself and an overhaul of the regulations.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann noted that the amounts which businesses have taken to requesting are “way out of line” with the original intent of the program, “which was a $1,000 here and a $1,000 there.”

Cub Scout Pack 929

Ton took a moment at the end of the meeting to thank Cub Scout Pack 929 for the great job policing litter along South Calumet Road.

“Your work was deeply appreciated,” Ton said.




Posted 5/14/2014