August 23, 2012 Town Council Minutes
Mr. Forbes called the meeting to order at 7:28 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Roll call was taken with the following members present: Michael Forbes, President; Mark Barenie, Vice- President; Gregory Volk, Member; Ken Gembala, Member; Larry Bustamante, Member; David Austgen, Attorney; Steve Kil, Town Manager and Sherry Sury, Clerk-Treasurer. Also in attendance were Fred Frego, Police Chief and Fred Willman, Fire Chief. Absent was Chip Sobek, Parks Superintendent.
Proclamation: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ‐ Mr. Forbes read the Proclamation ‐ See Exhibit A. Mr. Bustamante motioned to authorize signature of this Proclamation. Seconded by Mr. Gembala. Motion unanimously passed.
Approval of minutes: July 26, 2012, Regular Meeting minutes and Town Council Executive Session of July 10, 2012; Joint Town Council & Police Executive Session of July 10, 2012 and Town Council Executive Session of July 26, 2012 ‐ Mr. Austgen asked that this be a deferred item, there is some review going on with the minutes. At the attorney's request Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to defer the minutes. Mr. Volk motioned to defer the approval of the minutes. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider Resolution # 12-08-23, a resolution declaring Un-Collectible Bad Debt in the amount of Seventy Two Thousand Nine Hundred Forty Nine Dollars and Three Cents ‐ ($72,949.03) ‐ Mr. Kil stated that they cannot collect all the ambulance billing due to bankruptcies, they cannot locate the patients, Medicare/Medicaid related reasons. Mr. Austgen added that the items are the ordinary types of record keeping and ledger keeping cleanup. The format is in proper fashion and is authorized by State Statute. Mr. Kil's explanation about people dying, going bankrupt, disappearing, being uncollectible or some other calamity, or not eligible and not able to be paid is accurate. These are periodic recommendations the attorney makes in the course of collection that the amount is insufficient to waste time on, if it is de minimus in amount or an open account for collection. This is minimal and he asked Ms. Sury to tell them how periodic this happens; he understands it happens every six months or so, the records are cleaned up. Ms. Sury confirmed that is correct and they do the same with the water and sewer bills, they do those once a year. Mr. Gembala motioned to adopt Resolution # 12- 08-23. Seconded by Mr. Bustamante. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider two year Maintenance Bond for Silver Leaf Subdivision, Phase 1, in the amount of Five Hundred Seventy Six Thousand Six Hundred Thirty One Dollars and Ninety-Four Cents ‐ ($576,631.94_ - (Favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission) - Mr. Volk motioned to approve Maintenance Bond #1076084. Seconded by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Gembala added that they have a favorable recommendation from the Town's engineering firm after they reviewed it. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider Letter of Credit reduction for Silver Leaf Subdivision, Phase 2, to the amount of One Million Fifteen Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty-Three Dollars and Thirty-Three Cents ‐ ($1,015,963.33) - (Favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission) - Mr. Barenie motioned to approve the Letter of Credit. Seconded by Mr. Bustamante. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider two year Maintenance Bond for Saddle Creek subdivision, Phase 1 in the amount of Two Hundred Eighty Five Thousand One Hundred Twenty Four Dollars and Seven Cents ‐ ($285,124.07) - (Favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission) - Mr. Gembala motioned to approve Maintenance Bond #1076085. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider Letter of Credit reduction for Saddle Creek Subdivision Phase 2 to the amount of Five Hundred Twenty Seven Thousand One Hundred Sixty One Dollars and Fifty Three Cents ‐ ($527,161.53) - (Favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission) - Mr. Bustamante motioned to approve Bond Rider #5026608. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider Ordinance #1561 a town amendatory ordinance of the Town Standards of Service for municipal water ‐ Mr. Austgen stated that this is the Ordinance that is recommended by the Water Board to be adopted that brings those procedures for disconnection up to current standards. Mr. Gembala motioned to consider Ordinance #1561 on first reading. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion unanimously passed.
Mr. Barenie motioned to adopt Ordinance #1561. Seconded by Mr. Bustamante. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider agreement with St. John Girls Softball ‐ Mr. Forbes stated that they have been discussing this; it is the agreement to lease the fields to girls softball so they may go and complete a loan transaction so that they can build the concession stand and restrooms at the softball field in Hartland Park. Mr. Volk motioned to adopt the agreement as presented. Seconded by Mr. Bustamante. Motion unanimously passed.
Authorization to hire: One Full Time Firefighter/Paramedic, One Full Time Public Works Employee, and One Part Time Public Works Employee ‐ Mr. Barenie asked for estimated start dates. Mr. Kil stated that they are taking applications for public works through September 7th, after that they estimate they will have at least 150 applicants. The goal is to have someone hired by November. Chief Willman stated that the paramedic position applications must be returned by the 30th of August, the physical agility test is September 10th, the following week will be a written test, verbal interviews with him and the week of the 24th (the last week of September) will be the Town interviews with whoever is involved so it will be in line the end of September. In line with this they also had one of their full-timers resign this week to take a spot in Orland Park. They anticipate one replacing him and this will allow them to do the other one while they're at it. Mr. Forbes clarified that we will be hiring one new full time firefighter/paramedic and replace one that is leaving. Mr. Kil confirmed that it would be pursuant to the eligibility list that will be established. Mr. Bustamante motioned to approve the hiring of the above positions. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion unanimously passed.
Consider updated position description for Public Works employee ‐ Mr. Forbes stated that there is not a description for a part time employee so they need to approve an updated position description. Mr. Kil stated that the position description is the same for a full time and part time employee; they needed an updated description for an entry position which is what they are voting on now. Mr. Gembala motioned to approve the updated entry level position description. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion unanimously passed.
Reports & Correspondence
Mr. Bustamante thanked the Police Department for a job well done catching the kids that were destroying the mailboxes and cars. He added that some citizens in Bramblewood have asked about the possibility of a park. Discussion ensued on the possibility of a small park in the area of 93rd and Julia.
Mr. Forbes stated that they have a request to purchase from Chief Frego: A 2012 Dodge Charger to replace an existing 7 year old vehicle with 100,000 miles. The amount is $22,842.00 which does not include lights. Discussion ensued regarding the in-house installations. Mr. Bustamante motioned to approve the purchase. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion unanimously passed.
Mr. Forbes stated that Operation SOS collects items for the holiday season for the troops overseas. They are requesting monetary donations and products by November 1st so they can ship them in time for Christmas. Mr. Forbes stated that this flyer will be posted in the Clerk's office.
Mr. Forbes stated that they have had discussions and that he and Chief Frego have discussed having a Resource Officer at Lake Central High School. He stated that Chief Frego has had conversations with the police chiefs from Dyer and Schererville to get the communication going. He stated that he ran into a Councilman from Dyer and they seemed very interested in the idea and he also talked to a Councilman from Schererville and they seemed interested in participating in an agreement. The Chief has a meeting set up with Lake Central. Mr. Forbes stated that he is going to discuss the idea with one other entity that he will contact but not identify at this time.
Ms. Sury stated that all vehicles that were awarded to the highest bidders have paid for them and the titles have been released to them. The total amount collected was $7,659.00 and the money was deposited into the appropriate fund #275 for the police vehicles and #201 for the MVH one vehicle. They have the utility trailer left which had no bid and is in limbo. Ms. Sury asked what the Council would like to do with the trailer. Discussion ensued and Mr. Kil stated that he will add it to the list of items with no value referenced later.
Ms. Sury also stated there are some bills that should have been paid out of Park Impact Fees Fund #473 and put on this docket in the amount of $7,606.00. She stated that these bills were discovered when processing the park docket, therefore a second docket was prepared and would like to request that these bills be considered for approval and presented copies of the docket to the Council. Discussion ensued.
Ms. Sury requested that APV #8406 that is listed on the docket in the amount of $945.00 due Bankcard Services for the payment of the Dare Fundraiser portion of the Gary South Shore Railcats tickets be removed for approval from the docket to be presented at the Town Council meeting tonight. This request is due to the fact that the credit card purchase authorization does not have the accompanying paperwork attached verifying the additional 85 consignment of tickets that was listed on the un-numbered invoice stating that a total of 135 tickets were sold as there is only documentation of consignment for 50 tickets. Ms. Sury stated that she has been advised that claims against the Town: must be approved by an official or person seeking the goods and services; be audited for correctness; and approved by the Clerk-Treasurer. The Council may allow a claim only at a Council meeting and only if it is filled with the three criteria above being satisfied. As stated the documentation has not been submitted so there can be certification. If this request is ignored, be advised that she is prohibited by law from making payment until there is a clearly itemized invoice and documentation with the listed information to which she can conduct an audit to determine if the claim is true and correct.
Mr. Forbes stated that he did not understand. He referenced the e-mail sent out by Ms. Sury that there was a Town of St. John credit card authorization denoting that 135 tickets were sold signed by the Town Manager. He stated that there was also attached to the e-mail a group ticket invoice from the Railcats stating that the group name was the DARE of St. John and also noting that 135 tickets were sold. Ms. Sury stated that she has no actual documentation other than the consignment form of 50 tickets, the last attachment, to prove there were another 85 tickets. Mr. Kil stated the original consignment form the DARE officer took 50 tickets originally because he wasn't sure how many he would sell. He ended up selling a lot more tickets than he originally took. So he collected the money for the 114 tickets and which was deposited in the Clerk's office. They requested an invoice from the Railcats for number of tickets that was sold, which was supplied.
Ms. Sury stated that first it was 50 tickets that were sold which she had the consignment for, and next it was 100 tickets sold and two days later it was 109 tickets sold and this came in for 135. Chief Frego added that interest was generated as tickets were sold. Ms. Sury stated that she needs something to verify the 85 tickets. Mr. Kil stated that the cash was receipted in her office; she had the invoice from the Railcats along with his signature and the Chief's. Ms. Sury referenced the memo received earlier and on the earlier receipts there was no designation what money was DARE and what was donation. Discussion ensued regarding the price of the tickets to be $10.00 each with $3.00 per ticket going to the DARE Fund with reference to the original consignment of the initial tickets sold, the invoice, and authorization along with memo regarding the co-mingling of funds. She stated that she needs documentation on the 85 tickets on how that transpired and how it went down. Mr. Kil stated that he forgot to mention that he provided her office a deposit of funds along with a letter from himself documenting and verifying the number of 109 tickets that were sold a couple of months ago. Mr. Kil stated that he then sold more. She said it's a confusing mess; she must verify or account for the 85 tickets. Mr. Forbes asked if the cash is verification of the ticket sales. Ms. Sury stated that it is not of how many he got. Mr. Barenie stated that we didn't know if they sat in those chairs either.
Mr. Austgen stated that he is looking at the documentation Ms. Sury provided to him late today: Mr. Kil has signed a credit card purchase authorization form so let's assume for discussion sake there is confusion on how this all came together. They all came in pieces, or it came in stops and starts, as a process it didn't all happen in one bundle. Mr. Kil has executed as Department Head the credit card purchase authorization form to liquidate this into one pot. That form indicating quantity was 135 that being admission tickets that the description is provided, the unit price is provided, the total is provided and in this is the usual form for use and authorization of the credit card. He presumed that APV #8406 is the credit card. Verification acknowledged. On the signature authorization of the Town's executive administrator on a form properly promulgated in a manner required with his signature being who he is and what he does. In the course of documentation you have the number of tickets, the amount of money, you have the processing request and you have the date of approval. It says approved. So understanding there may have been confusion getting to this point, there is no other confusion. He reads this very clearly to be an authorization to pay for those tickets as it happened. If there is accounting for cash or the like that's another story. That is not this story. This is authorizing the Town's credit card being used to pay the vendor who provided the tickets which have already been used and for which we need to pay the credit card company. So if there is additional documentation you need beside this on official Town forms with his signature and date. Ms. Sury said she needed the 85 tickets accounted for. Mr. Austgen replied that he did it in the quantity of 135 on the Town form requesting payment verification and use of the town credit card. He did that by use of that form. The trail of tears is a whole other story, but he liquidated it into this amount on this form for payment of process. Unless there is something else, Ms. Sury stated she was concerned about the documentation for the 85 tickets. Mr. Kil stated that he has the DARE Officer, the Chief of Police and himself saying that 135 tickets were sold, he signed the form and the kids had a good time.
Mr. Austgen stated the Council could anticipate the Redevelopment Commission would be requested to have a meeting early next month related to an economic development agreement that will propose use of excess TIF funds that are on hand related to redevelopment / rehabilitation of some of the commercial districts and activities related thereto. He does not have the details; the Council will have them in the next couple of weeks. Mr. Austgen mentioned that Mr. Jim Thiel passed away and stated that he wished he would have known him better, when he looked at Mr. Thiel present at the meetings, he saw St. John and a tremendous civic and community oriented leader. Mr. Gembala summarized some of Mr. Thiel's involvement in the St. John community and Town government.
Mr. Kil distributed a list of old equipment that no longer has any cash value. The equipment was identified by the Jason the IT Director. He would like the Council to authorize the disposal of this equipment plus the trailer that was mentioned earlier in the meeting. The items have no cash value. Discussion ensued. Mr. Bustamante motioned to deem the ten computer items and the Public Works utility trailer worthless and have no cash value and can be disposed of. Seconded by Mr. Gembala. Motion unanimously passed.
Mr. Kil provided an update on the construction activity in Town. Through today's date they have 90 new construction starts. This time last year there were 56.
Chief Willman gave the July Activity Report for the Fire Department. Mr. Forbes thanked Chief Willman for going through the Haunted House with him and look at the construction that is being done. Chief Willman also mentioned that Lake Central High School called regarding the access roads. He is going to test them tomorrow.
Chief Frego read the July Activity Report for the Police Department. He also commended his officers for catching the kids vandalizing the cars and mailboxes. He said it is one of the largest criminal mischief sprees he has experience with $20,000 worth of damage.
Payment of Bills for the Corporation ‐ Park Impact APV's # 8480 - #8483 for $7,606 ‐ Mr. Barenie motioned to pay Park Impact APV's #8480 - $8483 in the amount of $7,606.00
Seconded by Mr. Gembala. Motion unanimously passed. General APV's #8032 - #8479 for $874,860.24 - Mr. Bustamante motioned to approve General APV's #8032 - #8479 in the amount of $874,860.24. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion unanimously passed.
Al Konieczka, 12548 West 101st Place ‐ stated that he was representing the Lions Club of St. John. He spoke with Mr. Forbes before the meeting; they are offering their assistance again this year at the Haunted House, they would be happy to volunteer again on the 27th and the 28th. He added that Jim Thiel was a long time member of their Lions Club. The park in Bramblewood is a wonderful idea and the Lions Club would be willing to donate up to $3,000 for equipment there. He would like the Town Council to consider naming that park after Mr. Thiel for all that he has done for this Town.
Sherry Sury, 11703 97th Lane, Homestead Acres, Addition 3 ‐ Property owner, taxpayer, former residential home contractor with husband Jim in St. John and voter since 1976 here in St. John. She is asking the Council to reconsider the position they took at the June Town Council meeting during the discussion that ensued whereas it was implied that the two old entry signs at Homestead Acres had no significance, were not important and that it would not matter to anyone if they were taken down, that no one would even miss them. However she stated that she disagrees with their opinion regarding these two landmark signs.
Ms. Sury stated that she was unable to address their comments at that June meeting as Clerk- Treasurer as she was taken off guard and was not asked for any input as this topic did not pertain to her position as an elected official, the Clerk-Treasurer. Furthermore, according to her best recollection from early March of this year she was asked for her opinion on two design choices for two signs with a request for purchase which was initiated and the design choice was made. She assumed that the request to purchase was in process because the initial signs without painting would cost about $1600 and signed off by the Town Manager with the painting process to be completed by our Public Works employee who does all the signs for the Town. For example, the Welcome Signs, Special Events, the Haunted House, Christmas in the Park, and the St. John Chamber of Commerce Corn Roast and believed that these signs would be erected when these tasks were completed.
In her opinion, she believes the permanent removal of these two landmark signs is a total disgrace to not only the residents of Homestead Acres but also to the developers of the partnership of O'Day / Fishtorn and their accomplishments that prompted the population growth since 1970 due to the installation of town sewers and the lift station they built. She will provide a little bit of history on this matter, however, before she continues she would like to state that she had several residents call her as to the status of their signs either refurbished or new and they even contacted the Town Manager as to the status of the signs because of the upcoming 175th anniversary. From 10-15 inquiries and conversing with Homestead Acre residents she can say unequivocally these early Homestead residents including my immediate family have lost their identify by these actions.
As to the history of Homestead Acres and the farmland that it was; the early 70's which later made the town move forward; the K-Mart, bank, Community Hospital, and residential construction due to the installation of the sewers by this partnership, the population figures from the 1970 census had 1,757 residents and the census in 1980 was 3,974. During this time, Lancer Estates, High Ridge, Candlelight Trails, Lantern Woods and Watts, newly annexed, came about. And Lantern Woods was the only subdivision that had a Homeowners' Association. Entrance signs were not erected at any entrances of these subdivisions; the O'Day / Fishtorn partnership installed these signs to identify Homestead Acres. In 1973 and.
Mr. Forbes asked Ms. Sury to cut to the chase; he's a little over the history lesson. He asked Ms. Sury if she wanted these signs replaced. Ms. Sury stated that yes she does. Mr. Forbes stated the so called historic signs she was referencing were dilapidated, falling apart, uncared for by anyone in this subdivision. They were determined to be a hazard, they were removed. He asked if she was suggesting we use tax payer money to install subdivision signs in her subdivision? Ms. Sury replied yes. Mr. Forbes asked if it is appropriate to use taxpayer money to augment your subdivision. Ms. Sury stated it was for the contribution Fishtorn & O'Day made, for what they did to make this Town grow, yes she does. Mr. Forbes stated he does not agree with her. Ms. Sury stated that Fishtorn & O'Day even up to 2002 donated land and easements to the bike trail. Mr. Forbes stated he appreciates that. They have not had a homeowners association to put any signs up. Mr. Forbes stated that White Oak Manor, where he lives, does not have a homeowners association and does not have any entrance signs but they don't feel they do not have an identity. There are multiple subdivisions that don't have entrance signs. He disagrees with her he doesn't feel that there is a historic significance to these signs. They were two pieces of wood on a post, they were dilapidated and uncared for, and now you are going to tell me, and I completely disagree, using taxpayer money for these signs is completely inappropriate. Mr. Forbes asked the other Council members for feedback.
Ms. Sury asked why she was asked her opinion on the design of the signs and under the assumption that the request for purchase was signed off for in March. Mr. Forbes stated he did not know what she was talking about. Ms. Sury stated that it was signed off in March. Mr. Kil stated it was the early part of March and he asked for the Town Council's opinion and that's what brought us to this point right now. Mr. Bustamante asked if these signs were at 97th and he stated that he brought that up because they were an eye sore. Discussion ensued.
Ms. Sury stated that the contractors dedicated everything to the Town. They helped promote the Town to what it is. They were the first ones to get the sewers, it was a mandate at that time, septic permits were not approved. Ms. Sury tried to explain the involvement of the prior Council Members that were involved at that time so the rest of the town could get sewers and the Watts annexation was a part of that movement to secure the funding. This earlier contribution by the O'Day / Fishtorn Partnership helped this situation, the population grew and the significance is there. They donated everything to the Town including the signs. She stated that she cannot understand why it wouldn't be the Town's responsibility to put the signs back up. Ms. Sury stated that Ms. Renate Fishtorn is here and would like to add a few comments since she couldn't finish. Mr. Forbes stated that they will take her request under advisement and look at the signs and locations that are proposed and that he is not in favor of this.
Renate Fishtorn, 9740 Olcott ‐ stated that she is the daughter-in-law of George M. Fishtorn one of the partners in O'Day / Fishtorn. When we started out here, this is not history but fact, it was just a small town and you had to pack a picnic lunch to get here. After a lot of thought with the partnership and their families, on whether they should take this on or not, they did. They installed the sewers, they installed sidewalks as a safety feature for families, they also put public utilities underground ‐ a first for St. John made the landscape more aesthetic, more pleasing. She stated that she feels that Homestead Acres set a new standard of country living. Many decisions came with much thought. Even the winding streets were planned so it would not look like a city grid feeling. She thanked all the families that settled in their subdivision, the custom design gave this section of town individuality and charm. She loves the live and let live policy and certainly did not expect to be singled out by pettiness. She feels that having to beg for replacement signs at the entrances of Homestead Acres is degrading and demeaning after all that was dedicated to the Town. My husband, Don, would mow the grass, before it was dedicated to the Town. She said the subdivision propelled the Town into the future. Don't forget St. John was one of the 50 best Towns to live in, in the United States. And not too many towns have that honor.
Brenda Bagherpour, 8347 Heron Lake Road ‐ stated that she lives behind the school and the construction goes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. because they are behind. She wears an I-Pod or earmuffs around the house because of the noise. The daily work schedules differ and they even worked on a Saturday and one Sunday, with one person. She doesn't work so she hears the noise all day. They are constantly dumping something or moving things, her house shakes and it appears the workers repeat themselves all the time. She mentioned that when the construction activity stops, the band plays. Discussion ensued regarding the ongoing construction process. She stated that she believes the town does not care about the residents but only the school and inquired if the building permit fees were decreased again. Mr. Forbes stated that he will not discuss this with her. She stated that the school controls the town. They are putting their house up for sale because they cannot put up with this for four years. Ms. Bagherpour referenced Ms. Sury request regarding the signs, she stated that their sign is gone and will never go back up again.
Donna Criner, Director of Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids ‐ Thanked the Council for stepping out; they are so humbled by the response from all the communities in Lake County to bring awareness to childhood cancer. She said to check their mailboxes as they are going to be doing some awareness activities in the communities.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive ‐ stated that he thinks they heard Ms. Sury make an appeal to maintain the character of what was Homestead Acres. He remembers George Fishtorn; a very honorable and fair man and a significant portion of that subdivision established the character of St. John. He thinks what Ms. Sury was arguing for is very important. There are parks named after people that have contributed to the Town, there are streets named after people who have contributed to the Town. He thinks the identity of Homestead Acres being tied to Mr. Fishtorn should be restored. It is the identity of the most significant developers in this community and he supports what Ms. Sury said. He also stated that he thinks Ms. Sury is owed an apology for how rude Mr. Forbes was to her when she was cut her off and would not let her finish.
Adjournment ‐ Mr. Volk motioned to adjourn the meeting. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion unanimously passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
/s/ Sherry P. Sury Clerk-Treasurer