Porter is the last Duneland town not to pass its annual cost for hydrant
maintenance on to residents, but that could change soon.
Town Council member Elka Nelson said she plans to ask fellow members at the
Nov. 27 meeting to consider implementing a $4 per month fee to be paid by
Indiana American Water Co. customers in Porter. IAWC charges the town a
maintenance fee so the hydrants are in working order when needed for fire
Nelson said having residents pay the fee instead of the town would free up
$113,000 next year that can be used for other Porter obligations and
Preparing next year’s budget was a struggle and money will be tight in 2013,
Nelson explained Tuesday that Porter did enact a hydrant fee in 2003 but in
2005 the sitting Town Council rescinded it. Chesterton has had a hydrant fee
for several years. Burns Harbor never had a hydrant fee until last month
when a $4.12 per-month fee was approved on first reading; final approval is
Nelson said she’s consulted Burns Harbor clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan about
the procedure involved, and Nelson volunteered to find out more information
before Porter’s next meeting. “I don’t mind it falling on my shoulders if
residents complain. I have a lot of good reasons to do this.”
Council members studied two possible ways to redraw Porter’s five districts
and reached preliminary consensus on one, asking that a redistricting
ordinance be prepared for Nov. 27.
Porter Plan Commission member Erik Wagner presented his research aimed at
bringing the districts closer to the goal of 972 persons per district. Under
the new plan, population in each district would range from 1,231 persons to
Nelson welcomed the fact the redistricted map would place much of the area
planned for the Gateway to the Indiana Dunes project into District 1;
currently the area spans Districts 1 and 4.
The map also appears to reduce the size of District 3 and increase the size
of District 2. Councilman David Wodrich asked if the redrawn map leaves room
for growth. Wagner said yes as three districts are below the 972 goal.
Towns are charged with reviewing their district/ward boundaries now that the
2010 federal census has been certified. Council president Greg Stinson said
he’s not sure the last time Porter was redistricted but it was prior to
Porter Cove subdivision being built, which accounted for a large jump in
Ward 3 population.
Stinson noted it’s sometimes hard to find candidates willing to run for town
office in a low-census ward. Although representation is divided into
districts, Porter council members are elected by town-wide vote.
Once redistricted, the changes related to elections would take effect for
the 2015 council race.
Road paving this
recommendation of Public Works director Brenda Brueckheimer, the council
voted 5-0 to accept the $62,723 proposal of Rieth Riley to use Major Moves
money to make road improvements at Porter Cove. Also unanimously accepted
was the $29,600 proposal of Hobart Paving to repair Hokanson, Sievert and
Stephens streets using MVH funds.
the council agreed to table, consult the town attorney and possibly amend a
proposed policy adopting guidelines for department heads to make small
purchases costing less than $50,000.
Nelson said the
plan needs more accountability and asked that council liaisons to the
various departments be required to give their prior approval in writing as a
protection for department heads. She also wanted it clearer that if a
liaison rejects a purchase request, it can be brought to the full council
having a rigorous process in place allows department heads to make
reasonable purchases without having to wait two or three weeks between
business, Fire Chief Lewis Craig asked for authorization to have volunteer
firefighters paid their annual compensation when he turns in paperwork to
document the request. It was approved 5-0, but not without discussion.
council member Jeannine Virtue will forward Craig’s paperwork to other
council members to sign off on by email, and associate town attorney Laura
Frost said the council can ratify their approval at the Nov. 27 meeting.
questioned why Porter’s contract with the firefighters extends from Jan. 1
through Dec. 31 but the firefighters’ incorporation has an accounting year
of Nov. 1 through Oct. 31. She wanted to make sure the town was paying the
volunteers correctly so state auditors were satisfied.
“I just want my
firemen paid,” said Craig.
“So do I and
everyone else,” said clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy.
advised the public no leaf pick-up or brush chipping will take place Nov.
26-30 as the department readies its equipment for winter. She also thanked
the Town Council and Gateway project consultant SEH for sponsoring a
paintball challenge for the Public Works and Police departments with the
latter winning the competition. A chili cook-off followed.
• The council
gave first reading to a 2013 salary ordinance and will consider final
approval Nov. 27.
• Stinson made
his presidential appointment to the Plan Commission naming Ken Timm to
replace the late Lorain Bell. Timm resigned from the Board of Zoning Appeals
to accept, and he formerly served on the commission. The commission itself
appoints a member to serve on the BZA; Bell held both seats.
• Virtue said
the Duneland School Board is considering Porter’s request to name a fifth
member to the Porter Park Board.