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
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
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
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.”