Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter Town Council mulls 50 percent (or $2) stormwater fee hike

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By KEVIN NEVERS

These are the basic numbers and facts:

The Town of Porter’s monthly stormwater fee of $4 per residence generates annual revenues of around $200,000.

The Stormwater Management Board, meanwhile, has a master plan calling for necessary infrastructure repairs and upgrades with an estimated price tag of $970,000 to $1,365,000.

The stormwater fee hasn’t been raised since it was first established, 10 years ago, in 2006. And remains the lowest fee among the region’s MS4 communities, with the next lowest--$6--paid by the residents of Chesterton and Crown Point; and the highest--$11--paid by the residents of Valparaiso.

So the president of the Stormwater Management Board, Daniel Colbert--reported to the Porter Town Council at its meeting Tuesday night.

Colbert’s request: a 50-percent fee hike, which would bring it to $6 per month, for a total annual increase of $24.

Council President Greg Stinson made it clear that Tuesday’s discussion was, at this point, an “informal” one. The Stormwater Management Board would be the body responsible for drafting a fee hike ordinance, calling a public hearing on it, endorsing it, and forwarding it to the council for final action.

Having said that, though, Stinson suggested the view that a fee hike might, in the end, be necessary. “Nobody likes to see the fee go up,” he said. “It’s an additional $24 per year. But that would still put it at the low end of the spectrum.”

Stinson added that the Stormwater Management Board over the last few years has been pursuing smaller, less expensive, bite-size projects because the larger ones would drain its resources. “I think it’s time to revisit this thing,” he said, then added that important questions remain, including whether a 50-percent hike would be too much, too little, or just about right; and when one should be enacted, immediately or on Jan. 1, 2017.

Stinson noted too that the Stormwater Management Board is responsible now for much more than simply drainage infrastructure. It also administrates and enforces the federally mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program, which is aimed at reducing the amount of pollution and waste which enters ditches, streams, and lakes by way of runoff.

Colbert, for his part, indicated that a $2 bump, in his view, is a fairly small increment but would still generate sufficient revenues to allow his board to pursue some higher priced infrastructure improvements, possibly supplemented with TIF or CEDIT funding.

“We’d still be the cheapest game in town,” Stinson observed.

The council finally agreed to do this: have its contracted financial advisor, Umbaugh, run the numbers on a fee hike sufficient to tackle the master plan. “Just realistically, what would work to allow us gradually to knock this down,” as Stinson put it.

One Porter resident did urge the council to approach the stormwater fee with caution. Jim Waggoner, speaking from the floor at the beginning of the meeting, said that he hoped members would be mindful of the fees residents already pay not only for stormwater service but sanitary sewer service as well.

Paving Project

In other business, Director of Development Michael Barry reported that the paving project on the southwest side of town--including Marquette Road and Krieger Street--is “pretty much done.”

“And it looks fantastic,” he said.

New Dump Truck

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to authorize Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer to pursue the purchase of a new single-axle snowplow dump truck, at an estimated cost of $160,000 to $170,000.

As part of that vote, Brueckheimer was also authorized to seek quotes from local banks on a five-year loan. “We definitely need a new truck,” Stinson said.

LOIT Account

Members also voted unanimously to approve on first reading an ordinance to create a fund into which it will deposit its $125,919 Local Option Income Tax disbursement from the state.

Per Indiana Senate Act 67, 75 percent of that amount must be used for road improvements. The balance may be used for rainy day needs or any other legal purpose.

Two Contracts

Members voted unanimously as well to enter general services contracts with MCR Partners for grant work; and with Abonmarche for land surveying.

Both firms will perform those duties, when required, for the Redevelopment Commission.

Congratulations St. Pat’s, CMS

Stinson took a moment at the end of the meeting to congratulate St. Patrick Catholic School and Chesterton Middle School for earning 4-Star ratings from the Indiana Department of Education.

“It’s always nice to see local schools recognized for academic excellence,” Stinson said.

 

Posted 5/25/2016

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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