Chesterton Tribune



Council okays use of surplus bond proceeds to rebuild Utility clarifiers

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Turns out, the Chesterton Utility has exactly $607,076 in surplus bond proceeds left over from a pair of issues: the $10.7-million bond issued in 2013 used to finance the federally mandated long term control plan to reduce combined sewer overflows into the Little Calumet River, the key component of which was the construction of a 1.2-million gallon storage tank; and from the $2.1-million bond issued in 2015 to finance the Fox Chase Farms sewer tie-in project.

And those moneys may be put to other uses, specifically the rebuild and reconditioning of several of the clarifiers at the wastewater treatment plant.

At its meeting Monday night, the Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution authorizing the expenditure of those surplus bond proceeds on the clarifier project.

Utility Superintendent Dave Ryan told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that the six primary clarifiers and three secondary ones--the large circular basins located just north of the Utility’s offices on League Lane in Porter--remove solids from wastewater by first agitating the water and then, in essence, squeegeeing them out.

The clarifiers, he noted, are 30 years old and have seen better days. The total cost of the project has been estimated at between $800,000 and $900,000.

The fact that there are surplus proceeds at all goes to the Utility’s thriftiness, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said. “That’s from good competitive bidding and everyone on the team keeping costs down, so there’s money left over.”

Asphalt Contract

In other business, and on Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg’s recommendation, members voted unanimously to renew the town’s 2016 asphalt contract with Rieth Riley Construction Company.

Schnadenberg, who said he’s been researching market conditions and eyeing the price of oil as it continues to inch up, suggested that locking in the 2016 asphalt price is likely a good idea.

The town has done so before. In 2014 the council extended its 2013 contract with Walsh & Kelly Inc. and then did so again in 2015, when steep hikes in the price of oil made asphalt a lot more expensive. Then, last year, when the oil market softened considerably, Schnadenberg pushed to put the asphalt contract back up to bid. That too proved a smart move, as Rieth Riley underbid Walsh & Kelly by $2.50 per ton for surface. With two hefty paving projects last season--Indian Boundary Road east of Ind. 49 and 1100N between Fifth Street and Pearson Road--the savings were substantial.

Vacation Payments

Meanwhile, members also voted unanimously to pay four department heads for vacation time which they didn’t take in 2016, per the town’s personnel policy.

Department heads are eligible to receive payouts in the New Year for up to 80 hours of unused vacation time. Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela was paid for 27 unused hours; Police Chief Dave Cincoski for 78; Town Engineer Mark O’Dell for 80; and Schnadenberg for 80.

Members also voted unanimously to increase the hourly rate paid to partners in the town’s contracted legal firm, Harris Welsh & Lukmann, from $150 to $210. Members noted that the rate has remained unchanged for 15 years.

The firm is paid that rate for any counsel over and above the annual retainer of $12,657, which remains unchanged.

Harris Welsh & Lukmann gives all of its municipal clients a discount on the hourly rate charged its regular clients.

Department Heads

Formally Re-appointed

At the suggestion of President Jim Ton, R-1st, the council began the meeting by voting unanimously to re-appoint all department heads. “They’ve done a great job in my estimation over 2016,” Ton said.

Member Lloyd Kittredge, R-2nd, concurred. “Everybody really seems to have the town first and foremost in their job,” he said.




Posted 1/10/2017




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