The Porter Town Council reached a general consensus Tuesday that it will
find some way to finance $1.4 million of the $4.1 million in planned
The Porter Redevelopment Commission preliminarily has indicated it will pay
for $2.6 million and possibly even more.
Last night, Porter town attorney Patrick Lyp said he and financial
consultant Karl Cender need to know the council is committed to the project
so work can begin on a bond issue to raise the money needed.
The town has little choice because it is under an agreed order with the
Indiana Department of Environmental Management to upgrade the aged
collection system or face fines and sanctions.
“We have to do it,” said Councilman Jon Granat.
Lyp said it would save on bond-issuance costs and professional fees to have
one bond issue for the entire amount needed, likely sold by the
Redevelopment Commission, but the Town Council would have to indicate how it
would fund its share of the bond sale.
A hike in sewer rates, pledging Porter’s future CEDIT revenue from the
Porter County income tax or a combination of both has been discussed.
Councilman Dave Babcock asked if the Redevelopment Commission can throw any
more money into the pot.
Lyp said the commission’s spending is somewhat limited because it designates
certain tax-increment financing or TIF districts within which it captures a
percentage of property taxes annually; TIF spending has to occur within
those districts or benefit them.
Lyp said it’s being determined whether some of the sewer projects outside
the TIF districts would qualify as benefiting them.
Councilman Dave Babcock said fixing the antiquated sewers is the most
important thing right now, even though the Redevelopment Commission has a
number of other projects on its plate, and every bit of money it can
contribute is needed.
“I don’t think (the commission) is in any way holding back,” said Bollinger.
Babcock questioned whether the commission could pledge part of its annual
TIF revenue for sewer upgrades and not have to issue bonds at all. “We can’t
cripple the Redevelopment Commission for 10 years,” replied Bollinger.
She said at this point all that is needed is a commitment that what the
commission doesn’t pick up, the council will. Vote was 3-0 to do so with
council members Micheal Genger and Todd Martin absent.
If the Town Council had to fund the $4.1 million from sewer customers alone,
rates would go up an estimated 59 percent. While that isn’t likely to occur,
some percentage of rate increase is anticipated. Now it appears a hike in
the town’s $4 monthly stormwater fee also could take place at the same time.
Porter Stormwater Management Board president Bill Cantrell presented the
fee-hike request under public comments Tuesday.
He said the town has to pay for unfunded mandates tied to the federal MS4
stormwater-protection program. When Porter’s $4 fee was implemented in 2005,
Cantrell said it was expected to raise about $250,000 annually but it’s only
generating half that amount, hurting the board’s ability to tackle
“If we go at the rate we’re going, doing one little project at a time, it
will take 15 years to get this done,” said Cantrell.
The stormwater that seeps into Porter sanitary sewers increases the town’s
treatment costs at Chesterton’s plant, Cantrell noted, so getting the
stormwater out of the sewers will save Porter money.
He also said an $8 monthly fee is not out of line with other stormwater
jurisdictions in the state. Chesterton’s base residential fee is $6.10 per
month; Burns Harbor does not yet come under MS4 mandates.
If Porter’s council wishes, said Cantrell, it could authorize a $2 increase
in each of 2010 and 2011 or find another way for the Stormwater Board to
carry out its mission.
That board voted 2-1 in April to recommend doubling the current fee. In a
letter to the council Cantrell stated, “When you have a civic duty to
perform and make a decision to take a course of action, you must balance the
cause and efffect on the citizens of the town and vote on the side of the
Bollinger said the stormwater fees can be looked at when the sanitary-sewer
rates are reviewed. She also commended the Stormwater Board for not taking a
band-aid approach to fixing flooding.
It was the council’s campaign pledge to upgrade the town’s infrastructure,
said Bollinger. “We’re ready to take the bull by the horns and dump a huge
amount of money into the town.”
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Constantine Dillon said
money has been authorized to extend a waterline through Porter to the
Goodfellow Camp, which Bollinger said will enable residents along the route
to tap on. It’s hoped work can begin on the project this fall.
He also commended the council for its progressive stance in being the lead
agency on a $30 million Gateway to the Dunes initiative that recognizes the
value of tourism and the money it brings to this area.
Dillon said preliminary results of a survey of lakeshore visitors to be
released next month shows 73 percent of respondents came here just to visit
INDU, 43 percent making a first-time visit and 60 percent not from Indiana.
INDU is working with the new Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, said
Dillon, whose ranks have swelled to 300 members. In an approximately 5-mile
stretch of the Little Calumet River from U.S. 20 to Indiana 149, about 53
obstructions have been found so clearing them will be an undertaking, he
The superintendent said INDU’s former Fall Festival is being repackaged as
Duneland Heritage Days Sept. 18 and 19. Dillon said he’d like to see the
Bailly/Chellberg area become a destination for festival events, and options
are being explored.
In other council business Tuesday:
•Residents Jennifer Klug and Rita Newman questioned the council regarding
grants for a new fire station and for Police/Public Works vehicles.
Bollinger assured them, “We are on top of grants. We’re constantly on top of
grants. We’re doing everything we can to bring money into town.”
•Newman said the Friends of Porter Sesquicentennial Committee has disbanded
and gave its leftover $865 to the Porter Police Department’s Shop with a Cop
program so the money can be returned to the community.
•Town attorney Patrick Lyp recommended the council not pay $1,900 Indiana
Workforce Development is seeking as reimbursement for money it paid to a
Porter town employee who was let go last summer, appealed and the discharge
•Police chief James Spanier was given permission to hire part-time radio
dispatchers as needed following the loss of four as well as 15-year employee
Mary Lane, who has resigned and was thanked for her service. Lane’s
replacement will be a temporary contract hire.
•Town director of engineering Matt Keiser said a rain-barrel program last
night at Hawthorne Park sponsored in cooperation with the Porter County
Recycling and Waste Reduction District was a success. “It was packed.”
•Repaving portions of Oak Hill and Waverly roads is basically done and all
work should be completed by the end of the month, he added.
•Porter Park superintendent Jim Miller said with the Westchester Neighbors
Food Pantry having moved out of the Hawthorne community center basement and
the Senior Center having disbanded there, the Park Board is looking at how
to use the reclaimed space.