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Porter Town Council approves raises for public works

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By LILY REX

The Porter Town Council passed an ordinance raising pay for Public Works employees at its meeting Tuesday.

Ordinance 2020-08 gives Porter Public Works employees a raise of $1 to $2 per hour effective July 5, depending on position. The purpose of the raise was to retain good employees and make open positions more attractive to applicants, according to Council President Bill Lopez and Building Commissioner Michael Barry.

Barry said the money for the raises is available in the Public Works budget for this year, and likely will be next year as well, depending on staffing.

In other business, the Council also passed ordinance 2020-09, amending the employee handbook concerning vacation time. Lopez said the change allows new police department hires to keep vacation time accumulated at their previous departments, which can help attract more experienced officers to the PPD.

Small Purchase Policy

The Council also passed a resolution allowing department heads to make certain purchases without the approval of the entire Town Council. The resolution releases department heads from the requirement in state law of having to solicit three quotes for such purchases, as state law allows for localities to adopt their own streamlined processes for small purchases, according to Town Attorney Greg Sobkowski.

Department heads can now make purchases under $10,000 without approval, though Council members noted department heads always talk to their Council liaisons about purchases anyway, and that isn’t likely to change. Department heads must get the approval of the Town Council President for purchases between $10,000 and $50,000. Department heads will continue to solicit three quotes for purchases over $50,000, and such purchases will be subject to a vote of the whole Council.

Beach Patrol

Porter Beach resident and Plan Commission member Rob Albrecht-Mallinger noted during the public comment portion of the meeting that the Porter Beach homeowner’s association wanted to commend Police Chief Jamie Spanier and his officers for their work on beach traffic and rowdy visitors.

“The situation is significantly better,” Albrecht-Mallinger said. “Thank you very much.”

“I’d like to thank the Council,” Spanier said, “because the reason it’s better is every Friday and Saturday, we have two extra guys.” After an influx of visitors from Illinois, where beaches are closed due to COVID-19, worsened long-standing issues at the beach, the Council approved Spanier to spend more than he’s budgeted for on overtime. “Without that we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing,” Spanier said. The extra overtime pay has been costing the Town about $1,500 a week, he reported, and it may continue all summer.

In related business, Spanier reported INDOT has communicated they are willing to put up ‘No Parking’ and ‘No U-Turn’ signs in problem areas along Ind. 49, U.S. 12, and U.S. 20. Disobeying the signs will be a towable offense, he said. “We’re really busy. We can’t guarantee we’ll get everybody, but now we’ll have something we can do,” Spanier added.

The Council approved Spanier and PPD Captain John Lane carrying over a week of vacation to next year. Spanier noted it has been difficult to get time off with the recent beach issues.

The Council also approved Barry to go out for quotes for sidewalk repairs of various problem areas around Town, including in front of the Town Hall, next to the Police Station, and a landing at Hawthorne Park. Parks Director Brian Bugajski is also planning sidewalk work at Kids Cove Park, to be paid for from the $830,000 General Obligation (GO) bond the Town secured for park improvements and a new fire truck last year, Barry said.

Barry also gave a paving update. The Hunter’s Glen subdivision and the subdivision north of it have been paved, though restoration such as roadside seeding and regrading is yet to be finished. Stephens, Sievert, and Hokanson are paved, but require some shoulder work. Paving on Cedar, Ash, and Birch has been postponed because Barry’s hoping to relocate a gas line first.

 

Posted 7/16/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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