Chesterton Tribune



Porter Town Council hears possible budget impact of virus

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The Town of Porter has planned for the impact of COVID-19 on its 2021 budget, according to Eric Walsh, with the Town’s financial consultant Baker-Tilly.

Walsh reported at last week’s Town Council meeting that no one can predict the full upcoming economic impact of COVID-19, but some factors are predictable. The three main areas of impact will be revenue from income taxes, gasoline taxes, and other fees.

Right now, revenue from gasoline taxes is down five to 10 percent since people haven’t been driving as much, and that pattern could hold true next year, Walsh said, and since Indiana income tax is paid a year in arrears, 2021 income tax revenue is likely to be five to 10 percent lower as well. The impact to other fees, such as parking and beach permits, could vary, he said.

Property tax payments were deferred by a Governor’s executive order, but are coming due now, and Towns should expect to make-up their losses from delays in the December distribution, Walsh said. There may be more delinquencies, but likely nothing worse than what municipalities saw in the 2008 Great Recession.

Council member Greg Stinson also noted the Town’s taken a conservative approach to spending to build up reserves exactly for a time like this. “Right now, we have very healthy reserves. We could do additional appropriations in the individual budget lines for departments in order to cover things without risk,” he said.

In other financial business, the Town held a public hearing and first reading of the budget and a public hearing on a few additional appropriations that were put on hold earlier this year due to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. The funds were from the Town’s general obligation (GO) bond and had already been earmarked for sidewalk improvements at Porter Cove Park and the final payment for the new fire engine. An approximately $5,000 Department of Natural Resources grant for the Porter Firefighters to buy new bunker gear was also appropriated so Fire Chief Jay Craig can spend it. No one spoke for or against the additional appropriations or the budget in public hearings.


The Council approved Craig to ask the Westchester Township Trustee to cover the cost of maintenance on two ATVs the Trustee’s office paid for in 2011 not to exceed $5,000. He will also ask the Trustee’s Office to pay for a new battery-operated pressure ventilation fan to the tune of $5,160 and about $100 shipping from Alexis Fire Equipment.

Building Commissioner Michael Barry reported he’s spoken with Carl Dahlin Jr. a few times about the state of the old Johnson Inn, but hasn’t gotten an inspection scheduled yet. Dahlin is still required to attend a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals on Sept. 16 regarding the unsafe building order Barry issued to him.

Barry also reported he and Public Works Superintendent Sarah Olson have been looking for a dump truck to replace one that they discovered isn’t worth the cost of repairing last month. After searching for a good deal on a used truck that would last at least 10 to 15 years, their recommendation is to purchase a new truck for $149,876. “After looking for a few weeks, there’s nothing worthwhile that’s used that would be a good investment of Town money,” Barry said.

The Council voted to seek an additional appropriation not to exceed $150,000 from the motor vehicle/highway fund at its next meeting to fund the purchase.

Parks Director Brian Bugajski reported the Town received 30 trees from NIRPC’s tree planting program. Parks staff will plant the trees, a mix of native hard woods such as oaks and poplars, at Hawthorne, Indian Springs, and Porter Cove parks.


Posted 9/16/2020





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