St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
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August 22, 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 

CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. Forbes called to order the regular meeting of the Town Council for August 22, 2013, at 7:13 p.m. (The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.)

ROLL CALL:
Roll call was taken by Clerk-Treasurer, Sherry Sury, with the following members present: Michael Forbes, Ken Gembala, Gregory Volk and Mark Barenie. Larry Bustamante was absent. 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.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
JULY 25, 2013 TOWN COUNCIL &
JULY 25, 2013 EXECUTIVE SESSION

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the meeting minutes from the July 25, 2013, Town Council and the July 25, 2013, Executive Session. Mr. Forbes asked if there was any discussion. There was no discussion.

Mr. Barenie made a motion to approve the meeting minutes from the July 25, 2013, Town Council and the July 25, 2013, Executive Session, as supplied by Susan E. Wright. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

RECOGNITION OF ACHIEVEMENT: EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT, DANNY REVEIR
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Gembala to make the introductions. Mr. Gembala stated approximately two Saturdays ago the scouts, at the lead of Danny Reveir, did some extensive work at the Hack Cemetery (estb.1843). Mr. Gembala stated he would like to acknowledge the work that the scouts did at Hack Cemetery, cleaning it up and putting in a mulch pathway and a flower garden.

Danny Reveir, Life Scout, Troop 561, appeared before the Council and thanked them for letting him present and explain his project. Mr. Reveir extended a special thanks to Mr. Gembala. Danny Reveir submitted pictures to the Council.

Mr. Reveir stated he is the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. He stated that in order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout he had to plan and carry out a worthy project that would be beneficial to a community, a church or a non-profit organization. Mr. Reveir stated he chose to improve the John Hack Cemetery on Joliet Street. He stated that he and a team of 31 scouts and scouters went to the cemetery and spent 150 man hours to make improvements to Hack Cemetery.

Mr. Reveir stated that the picture that he submitted reflected the mulch pathway lined with ornamental brick (brick donated by Griffith Izaak Walton Chapter) that the scouts installed. He stated that the flagpole was taken down, sanded, painted and put back up with a new American flag (flag donated by Schererville VFW). Mr. Reveir stated that a solar light was also added to the flag pole so that the flag is lit at dusk (following flag etiquette).

Mr. Reveir stated that the scouts planted some perennial flowers that will bloom every year. He stated that the goal was to beautify the cemetery. Mr. Reveir stated that they would like to make the cemetery more known to the citizens of St. John because it is tucked away in a corner and not many people know about it.

Mr. Gembala thanked Danny Reveir. Mr. Forbes noted that Danny Reveir, in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, was also responsible for the figuring the cost estimates and planning and guiding the labor. Danny Reveir concurred. Mr. Forbes thanked Danny Reveir and noted that he expected to see Danny Reveir go on and do good things. Mr. Reveir stated that he should attain the rank of Eagle Scout by November.

The Council thanked Danny Reveir. Mr. Reveir stated that Boy Scout Troop 561 would like to perform a flag ceremony at a future Town Council meeting.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Gembala noted that a few representatives of the St. John Historical Society were present, and had a request for the Council.

The president of the Historical Society appeared before the Council along with another member of the St. John Historical Society who is also a descendant of John Hack. The member informed the Council that her niece and nephew maintain the Hack Cemetery by going out every couple of weeks to cut the grass. They also erected a fence at the cemetery.

The president of the St. John Historical Society stated that the cemetery is recorded in the National Register as an historic cemetery. The historical society representatives informed the Council that they would like to post a sign at the cemetery. They stated that the St. John Historical Society cannot afford to purchase a sign. She stated that the cemetery is set off the road and they would like a sign to mark the cemetery so that people will notice it.

Mr. Forbes stated that he has no issue with putting up a sign at the cemetery. Mr. Kil stated asked the Historical Society representatives to come up with an idea for the sign, meet with him and he would get something drawn up to present to the Council.

(General discussion ensued.)

PROCLAMATION: SEPTEMBER CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Mr. Forbes noted that the proclamation designates September as Childhood Cancer Awareness month. He read the proclamation into the record.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize signature of the proclamation. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

PUBLIC HEARING:
A. RESOLUTION NUMBER 13-08-22, ADDITIONAL APPROPRIATION (P0LICE DEPARTMENT FUND #275 AND FUND 233).

Mr. Forbes stated Resolution Number 13-08-22 was for additional appropriations for the Police Department, Fund Numbers 275 and 233. He noted this matter was set for public hearing.

Attorney Austgen noted that timely publication of the Notice of Public Hearing on the appropriations was made in the two newspapers and a public hearing could be properly conducted tonight.

Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil to elaborate on this matter. Mr. Kil stated that the appropriations are for the purchase of the two new squads. Mr. Forbes remarked that this matter was discussed at the last Town Council meeting. Mr. Kil stated that there is plenty of cash available but it just needs to be appropriated.

Mr. Forbes asked the councilmen if they had any questions. There were no questions or comments. Mr. Forbes opened the public hearing for public comment. He called for public comment. Hearing no public comment, Mr. Forbes closed the public hearing and brought the matter back before the Council.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion for Resolution Number 13-08-22. "So moved," by Mr. Volk. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

NEW BUSINESS:
A. CONSIDER REQUEST FROM ST. JOHN VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT REGARDING EXTENSION OF AGREEMENT FOR ANNUAL DONATION FOR THE TRAINING SITE.

Mr. Forbes stated that the next item before the Council was to consider a request from the St. John Volunteer Fire Department regarding extension of the agreement for the annual donation for the training site. Mr. Kil stated that the Volunteer Fire Department is requesting a commitment from the Town Council to fund the annual donation in an amount not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the next six years. He stated that this donation would get the Fire Department past the term of the loan that they are seeking from First Midwest Bank. He stated that the money would be used for repairs at the training site.

Mr. Kil asked the Council to consider entertaining a motion to the effect that the Town Council will commit to donating an amount of not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the next six years to the Volunteer Fire Department. In the event the Council approves this extension, Mr. Kil stated he will send a letter to the First Midwest Bank reflecting that the Town Council will guarantee the six-year donation commitment of not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) to the Volunteer Fire Department, and they will then be able to secure their loan for the training site.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Gembala remarked that the training site is not owned by the Town; it is owned by the Volunteer Fire Department. He stated that the Volunteer Fire Department uses the site for training, and at the present time the facility needs work. Mr. Gembala stated that in the past, the Town Council has donated a $10,000 amount each year to help the Volunteer Fire Department. He stated it is important to donate the money so that the training site can be maintained. Mr. Gembala noted that in order to secure the loan, the bank is requiring that the Volunteer Fire Department present a letter of commitment that reflects that they will have enough equity to repay the loan.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on the request of the Volunteer Fire Department for a six year letter of commitment for an annual donation of not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000). "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

B. RESOLUTION NUMBER 13-08-22A TRANSFER FUNDS (AMBULANCE CAP FUND #410).

Mr. Forbes noted that the next item on the agenda was Resolution Number 13-08-22A for a transfer of funds for the Fire Department. Mr. Kil stated that this resolution was not an additional appropriation but merely a transfer. Mr. Kil stated that a request to purchase new ambulance cots was approved at the last meeting and the funds are simply being transferred from one category to another in order to purchase the cots.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on Resolution Number 13-08-22A to transfer funds for the purchase of ambulance cots for the Fire Department. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

C. CONSIDER CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH ALLIED WASTE SERVICES.

Mr. Forbes stated that the next matter before the Council was consideration of a contract extension with Allied Waste Services. He noted at the last council meeting there was discussion on this matter and at that time the Council decided to go out for bids. Mr. Forbes stated a subsequent conversation was had between representatives of Allied Waste Services and Mr. Kil.

Mr. Forbes stated that he had previously sent an e-mail to the council members related to the Allied Waste contract. He stated according to the discussion between Mr. Kil and the Allied Waste representatives and in a letter received by the Council, the terms listed in the e-mail are acceptable to Allied Waste. Mr. Forbes stated he has no issue with the extension and he would like to see the Town take advantage of the significant savings.

Mr. Forbes stated that pursuant to the contract, the Town is currently scheduled to pay $17.95 per household unit, and at the end of the proposed extension in 2018, the rate would be $18.00 per household unit. He asked the Councilmen for any comments or questions related to extending the contract with Allied Waste. There were no questions or comments.

(General discussion ensued.)

In the event the contract is extended, Mr. Kil noted that the exact same terms in the contract would be in full force and effect with the exception of the new rate schedule. In addition, Allied Waste will supply every current customer in Town with a brand new trash receptacle.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion to authorize the creation of an amended contract and necessary ordinances to enter into the contract extension with Allied Waste, and also that Allied Waste will provide a new 96-gallon trash container to each resident in Town who uses Allied Waste. Mr. Gembala made a motion to authorize the creation of the amended contract and the necessary ordinances to enter into an extension with Allied Waste and the distribution of the 96-gallon trash receptacles. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
TOWN COUNCIL:

Mr. Forbes stated he would like to discuss the 911 consolidation. He stated he has been paying close attention to the conversations on the 911 consolidation. Mr. Forbes noted that today's paper published the 911 costs associated with each town. He stated that based upon information requested by the Town, the Town provided the estimates of costs for operating the the Town's dispatch center. Mr. Forbes stated that through his conversations with town staff and various communities around St. John, he took a wait and see position in order to see what information would come out.

Mr. Forbes noted that the numbers published in today's paper are much like he expected and are "somewhat inaccurate." He stated there is a real issue with the numbers. Mr. Forbes stated he would like to discuss making contact with Mr. Blanchard in Lake County for a counterproposal from the Town of St. John.

Mr. Forbes noted that the number calls that are called out by each PSAP (Public Safety Answering Points) are accurate. He stated these numbers are based on actual calls and information received and logged by AT&T. Mr. Forbes stated that in order to get a more equitable number as to what the costs should be, the number of the Town's 911 calls in totality were taken and divided into the number of the budget for the combined dispatch center. He stated using this method of calculation the cost was $15.84 per call. Based on the Town's call volume and calculated at $15.84 per call, the Town's costs would come to $68,615.64 rather than $308,001. Mr. Forbes stated the same could be applied to every community listed in the newspaper.

Mr. Forbes opined that the consolidated 911 operation costs to the Town should be based on the call volume and not on an estimated percentage of the levy. Mr. Kil stated that the problem with the study was that each town in the county was polled and provided their own numbers as what it costs them individually to run their dispatch centers. Mr. Kil stated that the study was only as accurate as the information that was provided. Mr. Kil stated that the Town's position is that this information was inaccurate.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil compared the proposed costs to the Town of St. John for 911 calls to the Town of Highland's costs for 911 calls (from the newspaper); he stated that there is something inaccurate here. He stated that the Town of St. John has a third of the calls that the Town of Highland does but St. John's costs are more. He stated these numbers caused red flags to be thrown up immediately.

Mr. Kil stated that the Town will propose to pay for a percentage (.97%) of the calls based upon the total budget of the consolidated PSAP. Mr. Kil stated that whatever number the consolidated PSAP budget turns out to be, the Town's stance is that it would be equitable to pay based a percentage based upon call volume.

Mr. Forbes stated that paying for what is used, call volume, is what is recommended and it's also common sense. Mr. Forbes stated that logic dictates that communities that use the service more should pay more.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil stated that the call volume is one of the major determining factors used to adequately staff a public safety department. He stated that the Town is proposing this same logic be used in calculating their costs for the operation of the consolidated E-911 center.

Mr. Forbes asked the Council for authorization to approach Mr. Blanchard to discuss the Town's proposal with him. Mr. Gembala stated that this matter is worth questioning. Attorney Austgen stated that the Town's ultimate leverage to the E-911 consolidation iniative is that they have veto power and they do not have to enter into the interlocal agreement.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil opined that all of the numbers that were voluntarily submitted for the consolidated E-911 study are not one hundred percent accurate. He opined that the purpose for the 911 consolidation was to save money. Mr. Kil stated that by and large, public safety operation costs are based on call volume. He opined that each community should pay and equitable and proportionate share of the operational costs.

Attorney Austgen noted that there was little or no guidance from IDLGF as to how to analyze numbers and ascertain costs, and there was no uniform process to follow. Attorney Austgen opined that everyone's gathering of data and individual interpretation was different. Attorney Austgen stated that the Council should attempt to identify an objective criteria related to the E-911 costs.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil stated that the only objective data he has seen, to date, is the 911 calls that were provided by AT&T. Mr. Kil stated that there is a guess on the operating budget for the consolidated E-911 center from the newspaper of $9 million dollars. He stated that an equitable, cost sharing percentage calculation should be used to ascertain a community's costs in the operation of the consolidated 911 center.

Mr. Forbes stated that the Town's proposal is a better alternative than handing over "X" amount of dollars to the county to run the consolidated 911 center. Mr. Kil stated that the Town should not be penalized because they run their dispatch center leaner than other communities. Mr. Kil stated that it would be preferable if the Town's levy be left alone and the Town be notified how much money is owed on an annual basis for their proportionate share of operating the consolidated 911 center. Mr. Kil stated if the levy was left intact they would be able to distribute it back to the Town's Police and Fire Departments.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil stated if the Town's proposal is not well accepted, then another more equitable arrangement should be brought to the table. Mr. Forbes stated that the consultant did not have time to review and verify the numbers provided by the communities. Mr. Kil stated that St. John's proposal would substantially benefit many surrounding communities.

Mr. Gembala made a motion authorizing Mr. Forbes to present St. John's alternate proposal to Mr. Larry Blanchard and the Lake County Council. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried (4/0).

Mr. Forbes noted that the Town's CDBG project is completed. He stated the project has to be paid for. He stated that the total amount for the project was $95,877 with $50,000 coming from CDBG money.

Mr. Kil stated that the Town received $50,000 from the county for the CDBG project. He stated that the Town's share is $16,704.70. He asked the Council to approve payment in the amount of $16,704.70 to the contractor. Mr. Kil requested that the Council then approve the entire project payment so it can be submitted to the CDBG office. He stated that the CDBG will not pay the bill until the Town Council approves the project.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. Mr. Gembala made a motion to authorize payments for the CDBG project in the amount of $95,877 and a payment to Walsh & Kelly in the amount of $16,704.70. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

Mr. Forbes noted that Mr. Kraus has obtained estimates for the Town's portion of the costs for the sidewalk project on 85th Street where it crosses the railroad tracks. Mr. Forbes stated that the sidewalk project encompasses where the sidewalk ends on 85th Street, around the planter area and up to the railroad easement. He stated that a cost estimate was provided by Lambert Concrete in the amount of $14,500. Mr. Forbes stated that this estimate is approximately $12,000 less than the Town's estimated cost.

(General discussion ensued.)

Attorney Austgen asked if the project construction and improvement at this railroad crossing was premature given the preliminary investigation of the quiet zone matters. Mr. Kil stated that he and Mr. Sherrard have discussed the quiet zone matter. Mr. Kil stated that given Mr. Sherrard's preliminary research into the quiet zone matter, this project should not affect the Town's ability to secure a quiet zone, but at a later date, it may require the installation of a couple more sets of small crossing gates.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes remarked that obtaining a quiet zone is not going to happen overnight. Mr. Kil stated that this project will enable walking students to cross the tracks more safely without having to go onto the road.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize Lambert Concrete to install the pedestrian sidewalk up to the easement at the Norfolk & Southern railroad crossing at West 85th Avenue in the amount of $14,500. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0).

Mr. Forbes informed the Council that Mr. Cal Bellamy had visited them in March of this year to talk about the Shared Ethics Advisory Committee. He noted that several more communities have joined the advisory commission. Mr. Forbes asked the councilmen what their position is on joining the Shared Ethics Advisory Committee. Mr. Gembala stated that he would like to hear more specifics on the advisory committee. Mr. Volk stated he was absent on the night that Mr. Bellamy made his presentation.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would invite Mr. Bellamy back to provide more information to the Council.

Mr. Gembala had nothing to report. Mr. Volk had nothing to report. Mr. Barenie had nothing to report.

CLERK-TREASURER:
Ms. Sury had nothing to report.

ATTORNEY'S REPORT:
Attorney Austgen had nothing to report.

TOWN MANAGER:
Mr. Kil noted that Mr. Carl Cender was sitting patiently in the audience. Mr. Kil stated that several months ago the Council undertook the refinancing of the Building Corporation's bonds and were set to realize a significant savings. Mr. Kil explained that while in the midst of refinancing the Building Corporation bonds, the market went south and the refinancing of the debt was put off.

Mr. Kil stated that he received a call this afternoon from the Town's underwriter, Mesirow Financial, informing him that the Building Corporation's bonds can be refinanced tomorrow morning at a favorable rate and with a savings of at least $500,000 to the Town. Mr. Kil stated that the original goal was to save at least a half a million dollars or more. Mr. Kil recommended that the Council authorize the refinancing of the Building Corporation's bonds.

Mr. Carl Cender stated that Mr. Kil covered the subject matter very well. He stated that he has had weekly phone calls with Mr. Kil, Attorney Austgen and Mesirow Financial in order to monitor the market and wait for the rates to come back down. Mr. Cender stated that it is now financially feasible to move forward with the Building Corporation's refinancing as competitive rates can be secured. Mr. Cender agreed that the refinancing will save the Town at least a half a million dollars.

Mr. Cender stated with the Council's approval, he will lock in the rate tomorrow morning. Attorney Austgen noted that the financing could occur on or before September 10.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize the sale of the Building Corporation bonds. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Mr. Cender assured the Board that he would be on the telephone first thing in the morning.

STAFF:
Chief Willman delivered the July, 2013, monthly activity report from the Fire Department. Chief Willman thanked the Council for their support and continuing donation to the Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief Frego delivered the Police Department's monthly activity report covering July 1-31, 2013.

PUBLIC COMMENT:
Ms. Donna Kriner, director of Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids, thanked the Council for proclaiming September as Childhood Cancer Awareness month. She stated that she is grateful for all of the support that her organization has received from the Town of St. John.

Mrs. Kriner noted that since the letter Mr. Forbes read was received two more children have succumbed to cancer in the last 30 days. She asked the Council, in their capacity as a legislative body, write to Senators Donnelly, Coates and Congressman Visclosky to support the four bills that are currently on the table for funding. Ms. Kriner provided the Council with the numbers of the bills.

Ms. Kriner informed the Council of a sick child from St. John, Savannah, who will be entering into a stem cell transplant. Ms. Kriner asked the Council to keep Savannah in their prayers. Lastly, she asked the Council to send a team from the Town of St. John to represent them in a cancer awareness walk, Kids in Capes, on September 14th starting at the Crown Point fairgrounds.

Mr. Forbes requested that Mr. Kil place a link to Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids on the Town's website for the residents to access.

Mr. Patrick Connelly, 9354 East Oakridge Drive
Mr. Connelly appeared before the Board with a complaint of a vehicle that is has been stored in front of his house for the past 20 weeks. He stated that the vehicle has been moved once during this time period.

Mr. Connelly stated that he had done some research into the Town's ordinances. He cited Ordinance Number 511, Section 8, "the storage of vehicle," and St. John Town Code, Section 13-83, storage of vehicle.

Mr. Connelly quoted "storage of a vehicle for more than 96 consecutive hours is prohibited." He stated if a resident wants to store a vehicle on the street they can do so, but they have to secure a permit from the Chief. Mr. Connelly noted that Ordinance Number 1322 states as long as one's vehicle is licensed and plated you can stay on the street. He asked the Council to explain the disparity in the language of the ordinances to him.

Mr. Connelly stated that the vehicle parked in front of his residence looks terrible. He asked again for an explanation for Ordinance Number 1322. Mr. Connelly stated it is his next door neighbor's vehicle parked in front of his house. Mr. Connelly cited Ordinance Number 1322, Number 7, Section A, "this section applies to any vehicle used for commercial purposes which in excess of 22 feet long, seven feet wide or seven feet high." Mr. Connelly stated that he discussed this ordinance with Chief Frego.

Mr. Connelly stated he no longer gets along with his neighbor, in part, because of the vehicle being parked in front of his residence. Mr. Connelly stated that Chief Willman visited his house with a police officer while he was roasting marshmallows with his family and neighbors in his rock fire pit. He stated that he was directed to put the fire out in his fire pit because it did not have a top.

He asked the Council why the Town even has ordinances if they are going to pick and choose which ordinances they are going to enforce. Mr. Connelly asked the Council if anything can be done about the vehicle parked in front of his home.

Mr. Forbes stated that the information presented by Mr. Connelly was new to the Council. Mr. Forbes requested that Mr. Connelly give him an opportunity to discuss this matter with Code Enforcement, staff and Chief Frego and he would get in touch with him. Mr. Connelly stated that if he has to follow the ordinances, everyone in Town should have to follow the ordinances. Mr. Forbes stated he appreciated his opinion.

There was no further public comment.

PAYMENT OF BILLS:
Mr. Forbes noted that the general APVs 8267 to 8475 are in the amount of $1,244,453.04. He asked if there was any discussion on payment of the bills.

Mr. Volk requested that the four Recording Secretary bills on pages 9 and 10, Docket No. 8382, a voucher for a total of $280 be removed. Mr. Forbes noted that this would be for the continued review on this topic. Mr. Volk concurred.

Mr. Volk stated that he would make a motion to approve the general APVs after removal of the four vouchers for $280, Docket No. 8382. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0).

ADJOURNMENT:
Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Gembala made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (4/0). (The meeting was adjourned at 8:36 p.m.)

A TRUE COPY

_______________________________________________
Susan E. Wright
Recording Secretary St. John Town Council