Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Chesterton Town Council doubles brush/leaf fee

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Effective Oct. 1, Chesterton residents will see their monthly brush and leaf collection fee--assessed on their sanitary sewer bills--double, from $1 to $2.

At its meeting Monday night, the Town Council voted unanimously to increase the fee, as part of a multi-pronged effort to make sustainable the wage hikes granted to all municipal employees in April.

At the same time, the council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance authorizing revenues from the fee to be used for wages.

At a public hearing which preceded the vote no one spoke in opposition to the proposed fee hike but two employees spoke in favor of it.

“These sustainable funds are necessary to preserve our current level of service,” said Engineer Steve Williams, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 4600.

Williams added that the raises granted in April have already gone a long way to resolving two of the problems facing both the CFD and the Chesterton Police Department: recruitment and retention. “Those are key to a strong workforce,” he said.

CPD Lt. Joe Christian, for his part, acknowledged that “nobody likes to pay any more than they have to.” But, he said, “an extra $12 per year is a small price to pay to have your families safe and well protected.”

Christian also made this suggestion: residents can pay for the first 20 months of the $1 per month hike by participating in a Daily Travel Survey currently being promoted by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, which will pay folks $20 to complete the survey. For more information, visit www.nirpc.org, go to “Public Comment Opportunities,” click on “Hot Topics/News,” and read “NIRPC to conduct household travel survey of 2,000 households in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties.”

The council has previously implemented two other funding sources to make the employee raises sustainable:

* An increase in the dedicated property-tax rate used to fund Cumulative Capital Improvement (CCI), from $0.0029 per $100 of assessed valuation to $0.0059. Under state law, the maximum property-tax rate allowable for CCI is $0.33, about 56 times higher than the new $0.0059 rate. CCI is used for technology acquisition, among other things, and by increasing CCI revenues the council now has an alternative source of funding for expenses which had been covered by the General Fund.

* An annual payment in lieu of tax from the utility in the amount of $77,751; and a return on the wastewater treatment plant of $79,544. Both sums have been made over to the General Fund. Although, as a public utility, the Chesterton Utility does not pay property taxes, under state law a municipality may collect from a utility an annual amount equivalent to what the utility would pay in taxes if it were a private entity. The Utility is paying that amount only on infrastructure physically installed in the Town of Chesterton, that is, on its underground collection system and the series of lift stations.

Fee Waiver

In other business, members vote unanimously to waive the building permit fee for the installation of a deck at the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

The sanctuary, operated by the not-for-profit PorterCo Conservation Trust, is located on the west side of South 11th Street, directly across from the rear entrance to Westchester Intermediate School.

Chamber Events

Meanwhile, members approved by consensus the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s request for the use of Thomas Centennial Park for three annual events:

* Trick-or-Treat Downtown, Friday, Oct. 26, with the closure of Calumet Road from Grant Ave. to West Indiana Ave.; and Broadway from South Calumet Road to Third Street.

* Hometown Christmas Celebration, Saturday, Nov. 24, including the Twilight Christmas Parade and a special edition of the European Market.

* Mistletoe Market, Saturday, Dec. 1.

Budget Meeting

Members also voted unanimously to hold their 2019 budget workshop at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19.

 

Street Department will have leaves for farmers

Organic farmers in Duneland in need of leaves to mix into their soil can get as many pounds of them as they like for free. At the Town Council’s meeting Monday night, Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported that the Street Department will make leaves available to farmers for the asking. Call the Street Department at 926-2222 for more information.

Every season the Street Department collects leaves enough to fill 200 dump trucks.

 

 

 

Posted 9/11/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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