Chesterton Tribune

Town juggles finances after state hacks and slashes Street Department budget

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In 2011 the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) certified the Town of Chesterton’s Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) fund—the one used by Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg to run the Street Department—at $1,038,627.

In 2012, DLGF certified the town’s MVH at $828,739: a slash of $209,888 or 20 percent.

Try this: in 2011 DLGF certified the town’s General Fund—the one used for most daily operations—at $4,860,740.

In 2012, it certified the town’s General Fund at $4,770,237: a cut of $90,503 or around 2 percent.

So when the Town Council met in special session on Monday night, members had two chief questions and a third ancillary one to answer: how to make good on the year-over-year shortfall in MVH, given the rising cost of fuel and everything else? how to make good on the smaller but not negligible shortfall in the General Fund? and how—with the summer roadwork season fast approaching—to fund this year’s paving projects?

Members tabled two of the questions until a later date but found an answer to the first: the $209,888 shortfall in MVH will be covered through a combination of moneys: $132,156 from CEDIT, a portion of its share of the county economic development income tax; and $77,372 from its share of the state tax on riverboat casinos.

By a 5-0 vote, members agreed to transfer those amounts from the respective sources to top up MVH to exactly its 2011 level.

The somewhat less pressing question—how to cover the shortfall in the General Fund—members agreed to consider after attending a finance meeting today called by Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski. At that meeting, the council hopes to learn how much of the $3.7 million in CEDIT funds inadvertently withheld by the state from Porter County the town will receive.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell did provide a fast calculation: if the town receives the same percentage of that amount which it did in the usual CEDIT disbursements earlier this year, it stands to get $294,000, assuming none of the $3.7 million goes to the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority or to homestead tax credit.


Schnadenberg, meanwhile, submitted to the council a 2012 paving list—with a total estimated price tag of $403,850—with the understanding that it’s unlikely there will be anything like enough funds to complete the whole list this year.

The projects:

•Fifth Street between 1050N and 1100N, $98,000; Fifth Street between 1050N and Bittersweet Court, $60,000.

•South Jackson Blvd. south of West Porter Ave. to Portage Ave. If funding for the entire stretch is unavailable, the 400 feet of South Jackson Blvd. immediately south of West Porter Ave., $35,000.

•East Porter Ave., milled and paved from the water tower to C.R. 250E, $125,000.

•100E off Tremont Road, $15,000.

•Sandcreek Drive South, starting at 1100N, milled and surfaced, $65,000.

•Wren Court, Read Drive, and Jones Court in the Duneland Cove subdivision, $41,850.

•Miscellaneous sections of roadway in dire need of spot paving, $12,000.

•Crack sealing and preventive maintenance, $12,000.

Although O’Dell noted that the Street Department hardly ever does $404,000 worth of non-TIF funded paving in a single year, Member Jeff Trout did suggest that this would be a good year to be ambitious, inasmuch as the town got a highly favorable asphalt price last month: $58 per ton, compared to last year’s $64.

Schnadenberg, for his part, said that his estimated price tag for the whole list may in fact be on the high side, since he made his calculations prior to locking in the contracted price for the asphalt.

O’Dell did suggest that a combination of Major Moves, CEDIT, and Rainy Day moneys could be used to fund at least half of the list, or about $217,000 worth.

Members agreed to table discussion on paving until a later date, when more information was available.


Posted 4/12/2012