Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Porter Park Board sets special meeting on Town Council power shift

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The Porter Park Board has called a special meeting for Dec. 27 to vote on whether to go along with the Town Council’s request that the council assume jurisdiction over all Park Department employees effective Jan. 3.

In a prepared statement, the Park Board said they have been informed by town attorney Patrick Lyp that “should the Park Board vote to deny the Town Council’s request, the council could then proceed to disband the Park Board as it is currently constituted in Porter Town Code.”

Town Councilman Jon Granat, liaison to the Park Board, confirmed disbanding the board is one of the options that could play out although personally “that’s the last thing I want.”

He also said disbanding the board was not intended as a threat.

Tuesday the Park Board met jointly with the Town Council in closed executive session to discuss a job performance evaluation of park superintendent Jim Miller. The discussion included shifting responsibility for all full-time and seasonal park employees directly to the council.

Reading from the Park Board’s statement, president Patty Raffin said the council requested a vote on the matter be taken the next night at Wednesday’s Park Board meeting, but that didn’t happen.

“An extension was requested by Park Board members to allow time for the Park Board members to do their due diligence regarding the matter,” according to the statement, on which board members declined to elaborate other than they are seeking independent legal advice.

“It was confirmed by Mr. Lyp as well as outside legal counsel that, under both Porter Town Code and Indiana State Code, the Park Board is entitled to a vote on this matter,” read Raffin.

The statement further said the transfer of the park superintendent, park administrator and all other Porter Park employees effective Jan. 3, 2011 would place these employees directly under the jurisdiction of the Town of Porter, and the salaries of those individuals would be removed from the park budget effective the same date.

Granat confirmed this is the scenario under consideration. Asked if he were on board with the department swap, Granat said, “I get the gist of it. I think it would streamline the Park Department.” That way the Park Board can concentrate more on programming and other efforts, he added.

Without the confirmed availability of employees, it remains to be seen how such programs, events and activities could be planned. Council president Michele Bollinger has said the council’s park liaison could approve staffing requests.

Granat said the proposed Park Board relationship would be similar to the Town Council’s jurisdiction over town police officers while the Porter Metropolitan Police Commission sets police policies and procedures.

Granat agreed that, although the Park Board has been made aware of the council’s superintendent swap since around Thanksgiving, one day was not enough time following Tuesday’s executive session for the Park Board to make its decision.

Raffin said Granat has done a tremendous job as park liaison and she asked that he be reappointed in that capacity for 2011. Granat for his part told the Park Board, “You guys really care about the town and what’s going on.”

The term of board member Rondi Wightman expires Dec. 31 and she is seeking reappointment. Raffin thanked Wightman for her donations, expertise and ideas. “You’ve been a tremendous wealth of information.”



Posted 12/16/2010




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