Porter Park Board members deferred action on a 2011 budget proposal Tuesday
until they get some answers.
Members agreed to seek information from town clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy
and to attend the July 27 Town Council meeting if necessary, even possibly
giving notice that the Park Board itself would convene a meeting there to
adopt the budget.
Park liaison and Town Council member Jon Granat told the Park Board its 2011
budgets $168,500 bottom line reflects a 2.8 percent increase over this years
on the advice of town financial consultant Karl Cender, who believes thats
how much state tax officials will allow.
Park Board president Patty Raffin said her department cant be asked to do
more with virtually the same dollars.
"We have more things that will be expected of the park with the (hike/bike)
trails and development. We cant take on all these obligations and
responsibilities and stay within these same parameters," said Raffin, who
cited talk of a canoe launch on the north side of Hawthorne Park.
"Were very happy to accomodate the town and its vision is great, but we cant
do it without an increase. Were going to need more money how they want us to
grow," she stated.
Park superintendent Jim Miller said the department will be hurting
desperately if handed another shoestring budget with no adequate growth
factor. "If theres a shortcoming (in wages), its just me, myself and I."
Miller and Stephanie Miller, the park administrator who handles facilities
rentals, are the only full-time park employees.
Park Board member Jessie Campaniello said, "I dont think any of us are
comfortable" adopting a budget until more information is in hand.
Jim Miller and Raffin said a huge cash drain next year could be the needed
felling of ash trees in Hawthorne Park that appear to be infested with
emerald ash borers; Miller said he has a request pending with the Indiana
Department of Natural Resources for confirmation.
Raffin said it could be $1,500 per tree to remove them, and Miller said
about 12 trees each 18 to 24 inches in diameter might be affected. Raffin
suggested the park identify the problem trees and draft a plan to address
them. "This is an epidemic."
After the meeting Granat said the park could request that the Town Council
fund the tree-cutting using discretionary town revenue from the Porter
County economic development income tax or CEDIT. Large park projects in the
past have been funded with CEDIT money. The Public Works Department is in
the process of removing a large, decayed tree along Franklin Street.
In other business, member Rondi Wightman suggested that since the buck stops
with the Park Board, it should become more involved in personnel matters to
provide a little more transparency.
Said Miller, "Ive been given freedom to hire and fire; if you want to change
that, thats fine. We try and do our very best." He noted they advertise
actual vacancies and Stephanie Miller said if a seasonal employee does a
good job, they are rehired so in those cases no vacancy occurs. The board
eventually agreed to research its bylaws to determine if the matter is
Also Tuesday, board member Becky Maranto reported on the Park Departments
youth cooking classes she recently conducted for 10 students after proposing
the new program this spring. "It went very well. They want to do it again."
After taking in $550 in donations ($250 from the Kiwanis and $300 from
Wightman) and $250 in registration fees, said Maranto, $536 in expenditures
were deducted leaving $263 seed money and lots of supplies for the next
Miller announced that Christian Orsborn of Porter, 15, a member of Boy Scout
Troop 876 in Michigan City, built and donated 6 picnic tables for the parks
as his Eagle Scout project. Two tables are handicapped accessible. Orsborn
was commended for his accomplishment.
said the parks popular summer program ended Tuesday after children enjoyed a
number of activities over several weeks including 30 youth participating in
a bike rodeo organized by Porter police officer John Lane. Georges Gyros was
thanked for providing food for two picnics.