Chesterton Tribune



Porter rezones land, adopts sewer rate fix and waives residential back billings only

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Not only did the Porter Town Council standardize its sanitary sewer rates for residential customers on final reading Tuesday.

Council members also voted to waive back billings for the affected residential households --- charges that totalled $1,300 each in some cases.

The rate fix now designates 1-inch water meters as residential; under the previous ordinance only 5/8 and 3/4-inch meters were so classified. The shift will save homes with 1-inch meters about $25 a month on their base sewer rate.

A problem arose two months ago when it was learned residential customers with 1-inch water meters had not been charged the higher commercial rate for some time. The overdue amounts were billed and those customers were told to propose a payment schedule to settle the debt.

A few commercial customers also were hit with back-billed sewer charges, including $3,972 for Hageman Library in Porter.

Last night, commercial back-billings were not waived because town attorney Gregg Sobkowski said the Indiana State Board of Accounts will allow all or a portion of only residential back-billings to be forgiven.

Council member Dave Wodrich said it seems fair to waive the residential back-billings since just the residential meter charge was changed in the ordinance.

Vote to waive was 3-0 with members Jeannine Virtue, Rob Pomeroy and Wodrich in favor. Greg Stinson and Elka Nelson were absent. A public hearing preceded the council discussion. Kenny Harris said he favors the sewer-rate change and thanked the council for making the adjustment; no one spoke in opposition.

Klein rezoning passed

In other business, the council voted 3-0 to rezone from Residential-1 to Professional Business three parcels totalling 1.74 acres at 1190 N. State Road 49. Petitioner is Mary Klein, who previously operated medical offices there.

She also is selling an additional 1.83 acres that arenít being rezoned at this time. Hospice of the Calumet Area has expressed an interest in acquiring both tracts to open administrative offices here. Last month the Porter Plan Commission conducted a public hearing and forwarded a favorable recommendation on the rezone.

A second public hearing was conducted by the council Tuesday but no one commented on appropriating $15,000 to the Park Department. The Porter Redevelopment Commission pays the parks on a contractual basis for maintaining town hike/bike trails. All but $2,000 of the $15,000 will be used for personal services.

In other business, a unanimous vote authorized town building commissioner/director of development Mike Barry to purchase from the lowest most responsive and responsible bidder an upgraded back-up generator for the police station.

Police chief James Spanier said he has three proposals submitted, but two companies quoted maximum 30 kilowatt models and the other a 35 kilowatt unit. The current generator is 18 kilowatt and Spanier said itís undersized so he perfers not waiting two weeks for a council decision.

Submitting proposals were Ellis Electric, NWI Generator and Mikeís Electric. Quoted prices ranging from $21,925 to $14,935 do not include NIPSCO fees and permits. Virtue, who chaired the meeting in Nelsonís absence, said the council doesnít question the need for a larger generator but wants Barry to get a better handle on the size needed first.

Porter trail, park updates

During his activity report Barry said he and Porter park director Brian Bugajski recently participated in shooting a Porter County tourism video highlighting town hike/bike trails and attractions. As for the Orchard Pedestrian Way trail now under construction, sod still needs to be installed and a final course of asphalt will be laid if the weather remains at two consecutive days of 40 degrees or higher.

Long-delayed final work on the Brickyard Trail now wonít be done until next spring.

At fire chief Lewis Craig Sr.ís request the council OKíd clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy releasing funds to give the volunteer firefighters their annual compensation later this month. Payment is spelled out in a contract between the separate volunteer fire association and the town.

Pomeroy asked and the council agreed to reschedule the Dec. 24 council meeting to Dec. 30 at 5:30 p.m.

Bugajski said the Park Departmentís annual children"s Halloween Boo Bash was a success and he thanked all volunteers who helped and sponsors Starbucks of Valparaiso, Family Express, Costco and Strack & Van Til for their donations.

The park is planning a Nov. 24 volunteer appreciation luncheon at the Hawthorne community center; deadline to RSVP is Nov. 18 and volunteers not already contacted also are invited and asked to indicate if they will attend.

Bugajski urged residents to complete a survey seeking suggestions to update the parkís five-year master plan. Surveys are available at the town hall, the parkís Facebook page and Hageman Library.

It was announced 17 GPS locator signs have been installed in Porter parks with 16 more to be installed, some along town bike trails. Once the locations are uploaded to the Porter County 911 database, said Bugajski, emergency personnel will be able to respond to calls more quickly.

The Town Council also approved the Oct. 15 minutes of the Porter Park Board, which was disbanded by the council Oct. 22.

Bugajski vouched for the accuracy of the minutes.



Posted 11/13/2013