St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
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May 23, 2013 Town Council Minutes

Michael Forbes, PresidentAttorney David Austgen
Larry Bustamante, Vice-PresidentSherry Sury, Clerk-Treasurer
Gregory VolkSteve Kil, Town Manager
Mark Barenie 
Ken Gembala 

Mr. Forbes called to order the regular meeting of the Town Council for May 23, 2013, at 7:10 p.m.

Mr. Forbes introduced Girl Scout Troop 30457 who performed the flag ceremony and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.)

Roll call was taken by Clerk-Treasurer, Sherry Sury, with the following members present: Michael Forbes, Larry Bustamante, Ken Gembala and Gregory Volk and Mark Barenie. Staff members: Steve Kil. Attorney Austgen was present. Chief Frego was present. Chief Willman was present. Chip Sobek was absent. Recording Secretary, Susan E. Wright, was present.

Mr. Forbes read the Proclamation for Fibromyalgia into the record. Mr. Forbes proclaimed May 23, 2013, as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in St. John, Indiana. He urged all citizens to support the search for a cure and to assist individuals and families who are dealing with this devastating disorder.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize signature of the Proclamation for Fibromyalgia Awareness. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Mr. Forbes signed the proclamation.


Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the meeting minutes from the May 23, 2013, Executive Session. Mr. Bustamante made a motion to approve the meeting minutes from the May 23, 2013, Executive Session. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0).


Mr. Forbes explained that the matter before the Council for their consideration is the refinancing of some of the Town's bonds. He stated that the Building Corporation met at 5:00 p.m. on this date.

Mr. Kil reiterated that the Building Corporation did meet at 5:00 p.m., and their resolutions were approved. He stated that final action now needs to be taken by the Town Council. Mr. Kil stated that Mr. Carl Cender was in attendance at the Council meeting and he would clarify the bond refinance issues for the Town Council and the audience.

Mr. Carl Cender, financial advisor for the Town of St. John, appeared before the Council; he stated he was proud to appear before the Council and present the opportunity to do a refinancing of the 2005 and 2006 first mortgage bonds issued by the Town's Building Corporation. Mr. Cender explained that the low interest rates that are currently available make the first mortgage bond refinancing a great opportunity. He stated that the refinancing will provide some savings to the Town and its citizens.

Mr. Cender stated that the gross amount of savings, after all costs involved in the refunding are calculated, will be approximately $1,050,000. He stated that the net present value of the savings is approximately $923-$924,000. Mr. Cender stated that the bond refinancing would result in lower lease rental payments and a lower property tax rate. He stated that this opportunity should be taken before interest rates start to climb.

Mr. Kil stated that the Building Corporation bonds are the bonds that were used to build the Police Station, Town Hall and Public Works.

Mr. Forbes asked for any questions or comments. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Resolution Number 1305-23. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0).

Mr. Gembala thanked the accountants, attorneys and all the other representatives involved in the refinancing of the bonds for their hard work in saving the Town a great deal of money.


A Girl Scout troop leader introduced the fourth grade, Junior Girl Scout Troop 30457 from Lincoln Elementary School. One of the girl scouts stated that they will earn their Bronze Award for the bike trail marker project. She explained that the Bronze Award is the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can earn. The scout stated that in order to earn the Bronze Award, the girl scouts must do a project that benefits the community. She stated that the troop decided to install mile markers on the St. John bike trail. She stated that the markers will be in one-quarter (1/4) mile intervals.

Another scout explained that Troop 30457 would remove a 16x16x3 inch piece of sod and place a pre-made concrete slab (mile marker). She stated that the distance will be reflected on the slab, and the slab will be covered with a clear coat of paint. She showed the Council a sample of the proposed mile markers. Mr. Bustamante complimented Troop 30457 for the nice work.

The scout explained that one of the scout's father, who is a surveyor by profession, has volunteered to measure and mark the spot where each marker will be placed. The troop informed the Council that their work will start on Saturday, May 25, and they will continue to work on the mile marker project on Saturdays until the end of June, 2013.

Mr. Forbes commented that he had the opportunity to walk out with the girls from Troop 30457 while they were learning how to survey. He stated that this was a great project. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the Bike Trail Mile Marker Project proposed by Girl Scout Troop 30457. "So moved," by Mr. Bustmante. The motion was seconded by Mr. Gembala. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0).

Mr. Forbes thanked Girl Scout Troop 30457 for their well-done presentation and told them he looked forward to seeing the mile marker project when it is completed.

(Council and audience applaud.)


Mr. Forbes asked each council member if they had any reports or additional comments. The council members had nothing additional to report.

After Chief Frego's presentation, Mr. Forbes stated he had additional business that he needed to address. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the resignation of two police commissioners, Mr. William Dodaro and Mr. Donald Farris. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0).

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to appoint Mr. Frank Shipranda to the Police Commission. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion.

Attorney Austgen recommended that Mr. Forbes clarify which Commissioner the new appointee would be replacing and the term of office. Mr. Forbes stated that Mr. Shipranda would replace Mr. Dodaro in his term.

Mr. Forbes reiterated that he would entertain a motion to appoint Mr. Frank Shipranda to the Police Commission to replace Mr. Dodaro. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0).

Attorney Austgen noted that the two Police Commissioners who resigned had served on the Police Board for many years. He recommended that the Town Council send a note of thanks to the Board members for their years of service. Mr. Forbes concurred. He stated the Council would prepare something for the resigned commissioners.

Mr. Forbes stated in light of the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and the bad weather that we have been experiencing, he wanted to be apprised of the Town's emergency response plan. He asked when the last collective Town meeting between all departments had been held as far as an emergency reaction plan. Mr. Kil acknowledged that there is an emergency reaction plan in place, but that there has not been a recent meeting of the departments to review the emergency response plan. Mr. Forbes requested that Mr. Kil and the department heads meet in the near future to review the existing emergency plan.

(General discussion ensued.)

Chief Willman concurred. Mr. Forbes stated that a refresher course on the Town's emergency plan should be held as it is very important, and the Town's citizens will appreciate it.

Mr. Gembala commented that the Town's alert system is tested regularly and is quite functional because he frequently hears the alarm go off.

Ms. Sury had nothing to report.

Attorney Austgen had nothing to report.

Mr. Kil had nothing to report.

Chief Willman delivered the April, 2013, monthly activity report from the Fire Department.

Chief Frego delivered the monthly activity report from the dates of April 1, through 30, 2013, from the Police Department.

Mr. Forbes noted that he had made a request at the last meeting that the Council hold an APV for review and discussion with Attorney Austgen. Mr. Forbes stated he did not recall the APV number. He asked Ms. Sury for the APV number. Ms. Sury stated that the APV number was 7692 in the amount of $280.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes remarked that his understanding is that being as an employee of the Clerk's office is performing this service, and statutorily the Clerk is allowed to perform the service no matter how redundant, the Council may not say otherwise. Mr. Forbes stated he would appreciate the opportunity to review and discuss this matter related to the APVs.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Barenie asked if the APVs in question were for current minutes. Mr. Forbes stated the APV was for current minutes/duplication of service. Mr. Barenie stated he did not support duplication of services. Mr. Forbes concurred. Mr. Forbes deferred to Attorney Austgen. Attorney Austgen explained the chain of authority within the Clerk-Treasurer's Office, pursuant to Indiana statute, to the Council.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on payment of APVs 7697 through 7869 in the amount of $934,420.10. He stated that he had not reviewed the APVs, but he assumed the same payment was contained in the current APV docket to the same individual. Ms. Sury concurred. Mr. Forbes asked the Board for any comment.

Mr. Barenie made a motion to approve APVs 7697 through 7869 in the amount of $934,420.10; the motion excepted payment of APV 7692 in the amount of $280 (April docket) and APV 7852 in the amount of $210 (May docket); these APVs were pulled for review and discussion by the Council. Mr. Forbes asked the council members if they understood the motion; he noted that he believed everyone understood the motion. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0).

Attorney Jeffrey Gunning, P.O. Box 3305, Munster, IN
Attorney Gunning appeared before the Council on behalf of Ms. Sherry Sury, Clerk-Treasurer. He noted that "The Council has, in the past, ceased its review and approval of the official record of proceedings generated by Clerk-Treasurer." Mr. Forbes responded, saying Attorney Gunning's statement was not accurate.

Attorney Gunning stated "That is what the official meeting minutes of the Council are determined to be by the Indiana Commission on Public Records." Mr. Forbes stated that he did not believe this was accurate statement by Attorney Gunning either. Attorney Austgen agreed that Attorney Gunning's statement was inaccurate.

Attorney Gunning stated "The Council has adopted an alternate method with regard to its meeting minutes, and I would like to remind the Council that it received a communication in October of last year, October 12th of 2012." He stated that the letter was from the Director of the Indiana Commission on Public Records. "Stating, in part, that it is the Commission's position that the official minutes of the Town Council should be taken by the Town's Clerk-Treasurer, and then amended, revised and adopted by the governing body." Attorney Gunning further stated that "Recordings of the meeting presented by a third party and adopted by the Town Council may put into question the official actions of the Town Council." Mr. Gunning stated that this was two sentences quoted from the October 12, 2012 communication that the Council previously received in October, 2012, and heard read them by him at a Town Council meeting.

Attorney Gunning stated "Given tonight's action with regard to the refinancing on the mortgage refunding bonds, it would be a shame to put those in jeopardy as the Director of the Commission on Public Records indicates." Therefore, Attorney Gunning stated he would respectfully request that "You immediately invoke a process to accept and review all of the prior official meeting minutes that have been generated by the Clerk-Treasurer's Office, and put that procedure back into course."

Attorney Gunning noted that the Council has excepted out from their approval the vouchers that were taken action on under Payment of Bills. He requested that the Council consider these vouchers now before their adjournment. Mr. Forbes commented that the Council was well within their right to remove any bill from the docket for review. Mr. Forbes stated that the vouchers would be reviewed before approval.

Mr. Forbes further noted that Mr. Gunning cited an "in part opinion" from the letter of October 12, 2012. Mr. Forbes stated he believed there is another letter that states that the Council is well within their rights to hire their own Recording Secretary. Mr. Forbes remarked, "It is pretty sad that you continue to not acknowledge that letter that was sent to us." Attorney Gunning responded that he was not familiar with the letter to which Mr. Forbes referred. Attorney Gunning stated that the letter he quoted from were two sentences in their entirety.

Attorney Austgen stated he did not wish to engage in a debate with Mr. Gunning during the Town Council meeting. He asked Attorney Gunning if he was finished. Attorney Gunning responded, "yes."

Attorney Austgen informed the Council that they stood on solid and appropriate legal authority to take the actions that they take and actions that have been taken. Attorney Austgen stated that this has been documented to Attorney Gunning and elsewhere, as was referenced in the meeting. Attorney Austgen stated he would certify, for purposes of the bond financing, that all actions taken by the Council and the Building Corporation are lawful, accurate and meet the requirements of law.

Attorney Austgen stated he would execute an instrument in support of the bond that will be issued for the refunding that has been acted upon. He stated that the Council has the documentation related to the legal authority in their files and on the record.

Mr. Forbes asked for any further comment from the Council. Mr. Barenie commented that he appreciates the work of the Council's Recording Secretary, Susan Wright, and he loves the new format used for the meeting minutes. Mr. Forbes concurred.

Mr. Forbes asked for any further public comment. He asked the girl scouts if they had any questions of the Council. There was no further public comment.

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Bustamante made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). (The meeting was adjourned at 8:37 p.m.)


Susan E. Wright
Recording Secretary St. John Town Council