St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
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February 27, 2014 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 February 27, 2014, at 7:13 p.m. (The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)

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

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
JANUARY 30, 2014 REGULAR MEETING

Mr. Forbes noted that the January 30, 2014, regular meeting minutes were before the Council for their consideration. He asked if there was any discussion on the minutes.

Mr. Forbes, hearing no discussion, stated he would entertain a motion to approve the minutes. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes asked for the Council's indulgence in adjusting the agenda. He stated he would first address "Item B" under New Business, the retirement of Officer Eric Anderson and the disposition of his service weapon. Mr. Forbes noted that several police officers were present in the audience to witness the retirement of Police Officer, Eric Anderson, so he wished to timely address this matter.

PRESENTATION:
CLARENCE "PETE" MONIX MEMORIAL PLAQUE & NATIONAL FLAG FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The second item addressed on the agenda was the presentation of a memorial plaque for Mr. Pete Monix. On behalf of the Town Council, Mr. Forbes presented the memorial plaque to Mrs. Monix.

Mr. Forbes read the dedication as follows:

"This plaque is in loving memory of Clarence "Pete" Monix. With gratitude and respect for his dedication and his tireless service to the Town of St. John and its citizens."

Mr. Forbes noted that Mr. Monix was a staple in St. John since the early 70's, Mr. Monix was the Town's first full-time employee, served as Public Works Director and was a fireman for 50 years. Mr. Forbes stated that Mr. Monix served on the Board of Zoning Appeals up until the time he passed away.

Mr. Forbes stated that Mr. Monix loved the Town of St. John and could answer any question about the Town and its infrastructure. Mr. Forbes noted that Mr. Monix is sorely missed.

Mrs. Monix expressed her thanks. She requested that Mr. Monix's memorial plaque be hung in the Town's meeting room.

* * * * * *

Mr. Forbes next presentations were to the four teams that comprise the St. John National Flag Football League. He stated, incredibly, that the teams placed at the state level. Mr. Sobek noted that this was the second year for the National Flag Football League program.

Mr. Forbes asked the Jaguars' coach and the team members to step up. He made a special presentation to the St. John Jaguars, third place champions.

At the pleasure of the Town Council, Mr. Forbes presented a plaque and congratulated the St. John Jaguars on their achievement of obtaining the National Football League Indiana State Second Place Championship for 2013. Mr. Forbes congratulated the coaches, assistant coaches and the Jaguar players on their victory. Mr. Forbes asked the Texans' coach and the team members to step up. He made a special presentation to the St. John Texans, second place champions.

At the pleasure of the Town Council, Mr. Forbes presented a plaque and congratulated the St. John Texans on their achievement of obtaining the National Football League Indiana State Second Place Championship for 2013. Mr. Forbes congratulated the coach, assistant coaches and the Texans on their victory.

Mr. Forbes asked the Titans' coach and the team members to step up. He made a special presentation to the St. John Titans, state champions.

At the pleasure of the Town Council, Mr. Forbes presented a plaque and congratulated the St. John Titans on their achievement of obtaining the National Football League Indiana State Championship for 2013. Mr. Forbes congratulated the coach, assistant coaches and the Titans on their victory.

Mr. Forbes asked the Giants coach and team members to step up. He made a special presentation to the St. John Giants, state champions.

At the pleasure of the Town Council, Mr. Forbes presented a plaque and congratulated the St. John Giants on their achievement of obtaining the National Football League Indiana State Championship for 2013. Mr. Forbes congratulated coaches, assistant coaches and the Giants on their victory.

Mr. Forbes thanked all of the coaches and players for representing the Town of St. John so well. The councilmen congratulated the Jaguars, Titans, Texans and Giants on their remarkable achievements and stunning victories.

PUBLIC HEARING:
A. CONSIDER ORDINANCE #1581, AN ORDINANCE RE-ESTABLISHING AND/OR CONTINUING A CUMULATIVE CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT FUND (CCD).

Mr. Forbes stated that the next item on the agenda was a public hearing to consider Ordinance #1581, an ordinance re-establishing and/or continuing a Cumulative Capital Development Fund (CCD).

Mr. Forbes asked Attorney Austgen if the proofs of publication were in order for tonight's public hearing. Attorney Austgen informed the Council that the proofs of publication were in order. The notices were timely published on February 10, 2014, and February 17, 2014, in the Northwest Indiana Times. Attorney Austgen noted that the public hearing could be properly conducted tonight.

Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil to explain Ordinance #1581. Mr. Kil informed the Council that it was important to note that the Town currently has a CCD fund in place. Mr. Kil stated at the present time, the assessed value is one cent to one and one half cent, per $100 (one hundred dollars) of assessed value. He explained that the proposals can go up to five.

Mr. Kil stated that the Town is currently raising approximately $136,000 per year for capital projects such as curb replacements, streets and sidewalks, etc. Mr. Kil stated if this fund is moved up by four cents, it will allow the Town to raise $489,000 per year. Mr. Kil stated that the CCD monies can be added to the County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) money, which will allow the Town to make repairs to roads and infrastructure.

Mr. Kil explained that by moving the CCD up four cents, it will raise almost a half a million dollars per year that can be applied towards road reconstruction. He stated that this is one way for the Town to enhance, repave, patch and improve the roads.

Mr. Kil stated that there will be a small impact on the residents. He stated as the assessed value of the Town increases the tax rate will go down. Mr. Kil stated in a couple of years it is hoped there will be a net zero impact on the tax rate.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes opened the public hearing. He called for public comment. There was no public comment. Mr. Forbes closed the public hearing and brought the matter back before the Council for their consideration.

Attorney Austgen informed the Council that the ordinance is drafted to allow the Town to use these funds, if the fund is re-established, in an amount determined appropriate for emergency vehicles, fire, ambulance service and emergency circumstances that may occur.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes asked if there were any further questions. There were no further questions.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance #1581 on first reading. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance #1581. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

NEW BUSINESS:
A. DOLLARS FOR SCHOLARS REQUEST FOR DONATION.

Mr. Forbes noted that a request for a donation from Dollars for Scholars was before the Council for their consideration. Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil to elaborate on this matter.

Mr. Kil informed the Council that surrounding communities are participating in the Dollars for Scholars. He stated that there has been a request for the Town of St. John to donate $1,000 to the scholarship. Mr. Kil noted that one request would be that in the event a donation is made to Dollars for Scholars, that the scholarship be awarded to a student residing in the Town of St. John. Mr. Kil remarked that it would be a great thing if the donation helped one of the kids.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize the donation of $1,000 to Dollars for Scholars. "So moved," by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

B. RETIREMENT OF POLICE OFFICER ERIC ANDERSON AND DISPOSITION OF SERVICE WEAPON

The retirement of Police Officer Eric Anderson was the first matter to be addressed on the agenda by Mr. Forbes. He stated that Officer Anderson's weapon would be transferred to him as a retirement gift.

Mr. Forbes stated that the Council would need to make a motion to approve the transfer of the service weapon to Officer Eric Anderson upon his retirement. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion.

Mr. Gembala, on behalf of the Town, thanked Officer Anderson for all of his years of service and wished him the best of luck on his retirement.

Chief Frego presented Officer Anderson with his service weapon and acknowledged Officer Anderson's 29 years of great service to the citizens and Town of St. John. He wished Officer Anderson well in his retirement. Officer Anderson expressed his thanks.

Mr. Forbes noted there was motion and a second on the floor to authorize transfer of Officer Anderson's service weapon. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes, on behalf of the Council, thanked Officer Anderson and stated that the hard work of all of the police officers is appreciated.

REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
TOWN COUNCIL:

Mr. Forbes moved on to reports or correspondence.

Mr. Gembala thanked the Police, Fire and the Public Works Department for doing extraordinary work in the winter weather. He acknowledged that it has been difficult work and hard to keep up with. The councilmen concurred that the departments are doing a good job.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Volk had nothing to report.

Mr. Bustamante remarked that the Fire Department is doing an excellent job in responding to calls. He stated that Public Works usually has to follow them with a plow truck.

Mr. Barenie had nothing to report.

Mr. Forbes remarked that the South Shore extension has been in the news. He stated that he will direct Mr. Kil to call Congressman Visclosky's office in order to have a Visclosky representative present at the next Town Council meeting.

Mr. Forbes stated he would like discuss the South Shore issue and the potential contribution of some of the Town's CEDIT money to this project. He stated that he would like to have an informative meeting before a decision is made.

Mr. Barenie requested that information on the South Shore matter be placed in the newspaper.

Mr. Forbes stated he had three requests for purchase. The first request to purchase was for a new chipper from Alexander Equipment Company, in the amount of $51,670.50. He noted that this money will come out of the Solid Waste fund.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated if there were no further comments, he would entertain a motion to authorize the purchase of the chipper from Alexander Equipment Company in the amount of $51,670.50. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated that the next request to purchase was for a Ford F250, 4x4, in the amount of $33,307.00. Mr. Bustamante stated that this vehicle will have a plow and will replace the one of the older vehicles. Mr. Bustamante stated that the older vehicles are being weeded out one at a time.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes noted that this purchase would be paid out of cable TV. He stated he would entertain a motion to authorize the purchase of the 2015 Ford F250 from Smith Ford in the amount of $33,307.00. "So moved," by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated that the next request to purchase was for a 2014 Dodge Ram truck. Mr. Forbes noted that the price came through the State bid. He stated that the vehicle will be added to the Police Department fleet as a police pick-up/plow truck.

Mr. Forbes stated that the amount of the 2014 Dodge Ram truck is $24,322.00. Mr. Forbes noted that the Police Department will pay for the $4000.00 worth of equipment to be installed on the truck. Mr. Forbes stated that a plow will be purchased for Dodge Ram also.

Mr. Kil informed the Council that the Dodge truck would be purchased with CCD account funds. Mr. Kil stated that the Police Department is moving towards replacing their fleet with SUV 4x4 Explorer-type vehicles.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize the purchase of the 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 for $24,322.00. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes announced that an e-mail and letter of notification was received reflecting that Standard & Poor had reviewed the Town's credit rating and upgraded its rating to "AA" from "AA-." Mr. Forbes noted that mention was made of their work on sticking with a balanced budget. He stated that the letter expressed confidence in the Town's financial operations.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Gembala opined that the Standard & Poor credit rating upgrade reflects the hard work of all of the Town's departments.

Mr. Forbes stated that he had sent e-mails to all of the councilmen. The first e-mail, prompted by Mr. Volk, related to the business/personal property tax, and the second e-mail related to banning or placing a moratorium on building new nursing facilities.

Mr. Forbes had considered authorizing Attorney Austgen to draft some resolutions that the Council could approve and send downstate in order to show the Town's standing and opinion on these matters. After having communicated directly with State Representative, Hal Slager, Mr. Forbes stated there is not enough time to get the resolutions in place.

Mr. Forbes stated in his communications with Mr. Slager, he ascertained that Mr. Slager stands on the same side of the nursing home issue as the councilmen. He stated that Representative Slager indicated that he had voted against the nursing home bill in the Ways & Means Committee.

Mr. Forbes stated that Representative Slager informed him that the business/personal property tax bill "is so much in flux right now."

Mr. Forbes remarked that there have been so many significant changes to this bill that he is no longer sure what is in it.

Mr. Forbes stated that Mr. Slager accepted the Council's thoughts and opinions on these issues and he believes Mr. Slager is acting appropriately based upon this information.

Mr. Forbes asked the Council if they would consider making a motion to publicize their opinions on the aforementioned bills. Mr. Volk commented that at this point in time to leave the issue as it is. Mr. Bustamante concurred.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would routinely provide a legislative update the Council when he hears from Representative Slager.

Mr. Forbes stated that an E-911 meeting was held in St. John in the past week for the communities that have not yet signed the interlocal agreement. He stated that representatives from the Towns of Highland, Schererville, St. John and Cedar Lake were present at the meeting.

Mr. Forbes stated that County Councilmen Eldon Strong and Dan Denerlick, County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, Brian Hitchcock and his assistant, Jack Allendorf, and Attorney Nicole Bennett also attended the E-911 meeting.

Mr. Forbes stated that good conversation took place and the outstanding questions were asked. Mr. Forbes stated answers to these questions were received in a variety of forms, letters, directly from Commissioner Allen, and opinions from the county councilmen.

Mr. Forbes stated that he can safely say that the group has more confidence in Mr. Hitchcock than ever. Mr. Forbes stated that he is coming to a better understanding of Mr. Hitchcock's skills. He stated if Mr. Hitchcock is allowed to do his job, the job will get done.

Mr. Forbes stated that although their questions were answered at this meeting, nothing was put in writing. He stated that in order to move forward on this issue, a joint resolution must be drafted for the four communities. Mr. Forbes stated that the resolution will reflect the facts as known to the four communities, and contingent upon these facts as laid out in the joint resolution, potentially they could sign into the interlocal agreement.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Gembala opined that the joint resolution with the aforementioned towns would be a good strategy. The councilmen concurred.

Mr. Kil stated that the resolution will recap the discussion from Tuesday's E-911 meeting, where certain commitments were made. He stated the resolution will include the issues discussed and commitments that were made that are not part of the joint interlocal agreement. Mr. Kil stated the resolution will include the policy statements made by each town.

Mr. Forbes stated, if all goes well in discussion on the resolution, the Council may see the interlocal agreement at the end of March.

CLERK-TREASURER:
Ms. Sury had no reports.

ATTORNEY'S REPORT:
Attorney Austgen had no reports.

TOWN MANAGER:
Mr. Kil updated the Council with new construction figures. He stated at the end of February, 2013, there were 21 new housing starts; in 2014, there have been 16 new housing starts. Mr. Kil stated that although the numbers are a little behind, it has been a very harsh winter.

STAFF:
Chief Willman delivered the Fire Department's monthly report for January 2014.

Chief Frego delivered the Police Department's monthly report for January 1-31, 2014.

Mr. Sobek had nothing to report.

PAYMENT OF BILLS:
Mr. Forbes noted the general APVs 9489 through 9677 in the amount of $1,235,619.59. He asked if there were any questions or concerns on the payment of the bills. There were no comments from the councilmen.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize payment of the bills as stated. "So moved," by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Mr. Forbes opened the floor for public comment.

Amy Bogenrief, 9505 Genevieve Drive
Ms. Bogenrief stated she has not attended a Town Council meeting for a while and was impressed by the pace of the Town Council's meeting.

Ms. Bogenrief informed the Council that she serves as the Board President for Lake Central Dollars for Scholars. She thanked the Council for their donation. She stated that the support of the towns behind Dollars for Scholars helps to unite the Tri-Town area.

Ms. Bogenrief invited the councilmen to attend a ceremony wherein scholarships will be awarded. She stated she would like to see one of the councilmen present the scholarship award. Ms. Bogenrief stated that the ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, April 27, 2014. Ms. Bogenrief informed the Council that Dollars for Scholars is part of the bigger affiliation "Scholarship America." She stated that their mission is to reduce student debt in the USA.

Ms. Bogenrief thanked the Town for keeping the streets clean and safe during this harsh winter.

Mr. Forbes called for additional public comment. There was no further public comment. Mr. Forbes closed the floor to public comment.

ADJOURNMENT:
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adjourn the meeting. "So moved," by Mr. Volk. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – all. Nays – none. (The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.)

A TRUE COPY

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