St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
Return to Menu

May 22, 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 May 22, 2014, at 7:37 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. Attorney David Austgen was also present. Steve Kil was present. Recording Secretary, Susan E. Wright, was also present. Chief Frego and Chief Willman were present. Chip Sobek was absent.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
APRIL 24, 2014

Mr. Forbes stated the April 24, 2014, minutes were before the Council for their consideration. He asked if there was any discussion on the minutes. There was no discussion. Mr. Gembala made a motion to approve the minutes of April 24, 2014, as posted. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated that he would like to pause before moving on to New Business. He stated he invited Representative Hal Slager to visit with the Council.

Representative Hal Slager thanked the Council for allowing him to take a few minutes of their time. He stated there were a couple of items he would like to talk about.

Mr. Slager stated that one item that has been brought to his attention either by the Council or by President Forbes is the business/personal property tax bill. He stated that there was concern that the elimination of the business/personal property tax would have a dramatic impact on municipalities.

Mr. Slager stated that having participated in municipal government during the period of the frozen property tax levy, he is all too familiar with the effect frozen levy this has had on municipal government. He stated he believes all of the communities he represents, Schererville, St. John, Dyer have operated on fewer dollars in 2013 than they had in 2006, largely because of the decrease in development which caused a decrease in building permit fees and other fees.

Mr. Slager stated that the legislature knew of the concern with the business/personal property tax. He stated that although the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns may not have clearly defined it, it was always meant to be an opt-in provision by a county. He stated that this opt-in provision did not fall within the authority of the County Council but of the County Income Tax Council. Mr. Slager stated he was never in favor of this arrangement because they could opt-in and then the County Council would be left "trying to get the genie back in the bottle from a budget perspective."

Mr. Slager stated that the reality is that Lake County is very dependent on the business/personal property tax. He stated that since it has been on hold for six or seven years is all the more reason why it was something that could not be absorbed by starting to reduce the revenue. Mr. Slager stated unfortunately, it's an opt-in provision, and Lake County is one county within the entire state that really needs to participate for the benefit of the state.

Mr. Slager stated due to Indiana's proximity to Illinois and big industry, investments are thought of in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of dollars. He stated that is more than all of the business that could be attracted throughout the state collectively. Mr. Slager stated it would make sense that there would be a bill that would allow Lake County to participate. Mr. Slager stated he is in favor of eliminating the penalty on business.

Mr. Slager stated that a part of this bill required a Blue Ribbon Commission. He stated the Blue Ribbon Commission is comprised of very knowledgeable people who will be looking at how government will be funded going forward, and how the bill may impact the state going forward. Mr. Slager stated that the property taxes have been capped by constitutional amendment.

Mr. Slager stated that income tax has been lowered on the personal and corporate level. He stated that the sales tax is the highest in the area second only to Illinois. Mr. Slager stated that this does not leave a lot of opportunity for new revenue from those areas. He stated it will be interesting to see where this goes.

Mr. Slager opined that if municipal government is going to be a true partner they need to participate in some of the spoils of economic development. He explained that a municipality is being asked to create economic development, and it will be done by using a T.I.F. that raises the revenue that can make the development happen. Mr. Slager stated that there is no sales tax from this, there is no income tax, but there are costs associated with economic development such as fire/police protection and public works. He noted economic development is good in that it helps create jobs.

Mr. Slager stated if an incentive could be created for communities to participate in economic development it would be helpful. He stated he has been pushing forward with this idea but it is going to take some time and work. Mr. Slager stated that the Blue Ribbon Committee might be the opportunity to introduce this idea.

Mr. Slager stated he also wanted to talk about a bill that did not pass. He stated this bill would create a total moratorium on nursing homes. He noted that the Town has some nursing home development going on. Mr. Slager stated that at the present time and for the past few years there has been a moratorium on Medicaid beds only.

Mr. Slager stated that this was done so that the many empty Medicaid beds around the state would be filled. He stated that the need for the Medicaid moratorium on hospital beds is because if there are open Medicaid beds the actual cost per bed rises and Indiana taxpayers foot this bill. Mr. Slager stated that better utilization of these beds is more cost effective for everyone.

Mr. Slager stated that the way in which this problem was approached was by putting a total moratorium on any nursing home development, whether it was Medicaid beds, private pay or Medicare. He stated that there was quite a push back on the moratorium.

Mr. Slager stated that he sits on the Public Health Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee and he heard testimony from both. He stated he voted against the moratorium in Ways and Means, even when it was reduced down to a one year moratorium. Mr. Slager stated he was in favor of a continuation of the "Medicaid only moratorium," so a more thorough review could be made and a better way to approach the problem could be presented.

Mr. Slager stated that preventing all development was not the way to solve this problem. Mr. Slager stated he wanted to know the real cost of a moratorium.

He stated it may be far more costly to the people of Indiana to put in place a moratorium than to pay the higher Medicaid rate.

Mr. Slager stated that in order to get the bill passed out of the House, a poison pill was put in it to make sure it went to conference committee because nobody was happy with the bill. He stated that an agreement could not be made at the conference committee. Mr. Slager stated that the bill passed both houses and then died. Mr. Slager stated that starting July 1, 2014, all moratoriums will be lifted.

Mr. Slager stated he wanted to take a brief moment to talk about T.I.F.s. He stated this year there was a law passed that put a limit on some of the old, original T.I.F.s that were created. He stated the T.I.F.s were created with no term and this problem was rectified.

Mr. Slager stated that he has heard multiple presentations where T.I.F. money is used for some questionable projects. Mr. Slager stated he is very hesitant to get on board for any change in T.I.F. unless other incentives can be created because this is the last option for a municipality to channel their own destiny.

Mr. Slager stated he would be happy to answer any questions.

(General discussion ensued.)

The sales tax issue was discussed. Mr. Slager stated that there is no agenda to do something with T.I.F., but there is always a legislator that will file a bill. Mr. Slager stated that many T.I.F. bills are filed and never get a hearing in committee so the bill dies there. Mr. Slager stated that there seems to be a hesitancy to alter T.I.F. without a good alternative.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Slager stated that approximately 850 bills were filed on gay marriage and 224 bills passed. He stated a lot of work was compressed into a ten week time frame.

Mr. Forbes asked if there was anything that should be watched for in between sessions. Mr. Slager stated that session ended in March and study committees will probably begin in July, August and September. Mr. Slager recommended visiting the legislative web site to look at the calendar to see what is being talked about. He stated many of the hearings can be followed on-line.

Mr. Slager stated that the whole point of the committees is to receive testimony from experts. He stated that legislators like hearing from local officials about what they're up against.

Mr. Slager stated one of the issues he will be looking at this year will be homeowner associations. He stated a bill came up this year related to homeowners associations that never got a hearing. Mr. Slager stated that some argue that homeowners associations need to be reined in a little bit. Mr. Slager stated he voted against a bill that was passed that allows campaigning in homeowners associations. He stated the bill kind of slipped through.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Slager stated he sits on the Public Health Committee and he stated he will likely hear something this summer on government regulation of care facilities and the moratorium that is place on Medicaid beds only. He stated that the moratorium on Medicaid beds has created a market place for Medicaid beds. Mr. Slager explained that any nursing home developer wants to have private pay, Medicare, and Medicaid beds. He stated that if a resident runs out of money and there is a Medicaid bed available they don't have to kick the resident out of the facility.

Mr. Slager stated that as Medicaid facilities have gone out of business, they are selling off their allocation of Medicaid beds and this has created its own market. Mr. Slager stated that he does not think this was what was intended, or maybe it was what was intended. Mr. Slager indicated that there was much consternation on this subject in the House. He stated that this is an issue that will have a study commission this summer and it's an important issue to watch.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes thanked Representative Slager for appearing before the Council. He told him he has done a great job in Indianapolis, as has Rick Niemeyer. Mr. Forbes opined that Mr. Slager has been a bright light for Lake County as far as representation. Mr. Forbes stated he greatly appreciates and respects everything that Mr. Slager has done.

Mr. Slager thanked the Council and told them to feel free to contact him.

NEW BUSINESS:
A. ORDINANCE #1585, AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING THE ST. JOHN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.

Mr. Forbes read Ordinance #1585 into the record as follows: "an ordinance of the Town Council of the Town of St. John, Lake County Indiana, establishing the St. John Redevelopment Authority and all matters related thereto."

Mr. Forbes asked Attorney Austgen to elaborate on the ordinance. Attorney Austgen explained that Ordinance #1585 is the establishment of a Redevelopment Authority under Indiana Code for purposes of a Redevelopment Authority for financing opportunity and options that the Town is working on for purposes of the upcoming road project. He stated that the ordinance will act as a building corporation as it is a mechanism under the code for transferring ownership of property and leasing back, and using the tax revenue to satisfy debt obligations.

Attorney Austgen noted it would be a three member board with the authority to bond. He stated that the statutory powers are incorporated into the ordinance.

Mr. Kil stated that a good portion of the CEDIT money would be used to fund the road project. He stated it is important that it is understood the Town is funding the road projects out of existing tax money that the residents pay, the CEDIT and CCD. Mr. Kil stressed that there would be no new tax impact to any of the residents to establish the Redevelopment Authority or for them to issue the corresponding debt.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Bodich explained to the Council that the bond is sized on the amount of CEDIT dollars anticipated and also allowing for other projects of the Capital Improvement Plan for use of CEDIT dollars. He stated that there's an opportunity for not using all of the CEDIT dollars and using those available for road improvement projects.

Mr. Forbes directed Mr. Kil to provide all of the councilmen with a copy of the debt schedule. Mr. Forbes asked if there was any further discussion. There was no further discussion.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance #1585 on first reading. "So moved," by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance #1585. He asked the individual who makes a motion to read the title of the ordinance into the motion.

Mr. Volk made a motion to adopt Ordinance #1585; he read Ordinance #1585 as follows: "an ordinance of the Town Council of the Town of St. John, Lake County Indiana, establishing the St. John Redevelopment Authority and all matters related thereto." Mr. Gembala seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

B. CONSIDER APPOINTMENTS TO THE ST. JOHN REDEVELPMENT AUTHORITY.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda was consideration for appointments to the St. John Redevelopment Authority. He stated he would entertain a motion to appoint Mr. Robert Meinzer, Mr. George Bellamy and Mr. Ronald Estep to the Redevelopment Authority.

Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion or other names to consider. "So moved," by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Volk noted that the gentlemen who were appointed to the Redevelopment Authority were also members of the building corporation.

Attorney Austgen stated that the Certificates of Appointment should be processed and the appointees need to accept and sign the same. Mr. Forbes stated that the appointees have been contacted and are interested in the redevelopment project. Mr. Kil stated that the three appointees have all verbally accepted the position, and he will contact them that the Council took action and appointed them at this meeting.

(General discussion ensued.)

C. CONSIDER ACCEPTANCE OF DEEDS OF ST. JOHN UNITS 11 AND 12 FROM HENRY WALTER HOLDINGS.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council's consideration was acceptance of deeds for the Gates of St. John, Units 11 and 12 from Henry Walter Holdings.

Mr. Kil explained to the Council that the Town is finally in the position to accept the property that has been discussed in the Gates of St. John, Units 11 and 12. He stated that the deeds have been executed to convey the property to the Town and the other part of the property to Mr. Lotton.

Mr. Kil stated that public improvements have been started and sidewalks are going in. He stated that the road repair has also started. Mr. Kil informed the Council that the monies funding this project has been provided by Centier Bank. Mr. Kil stated that this is the final step in the process, and he highly recommend that the Council accept the deeds.

Mr. Forbes asked if there was any discussion. There was no discussion. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the deeds from the Gates of St. John, Units 11 and 12, as presented. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Gembala seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
A. TOWN COUNCIL:

Mr. Forbes moved on to reports or correspondence.

Mr. Gembala stated he received some very positive comments on the parks program this summer.

Mr. Volk had nothing to report.

Mr. Bustamante stated that the Code Enforcement hours should be extended. He recommended that the Code Enforcement officer be scheduled every day. Mr. Kil stated he would adjust the Code Enforcement officer's hours accordingly to leave him in a part-time position but place him on the schedule Monday through Friday.

Mr. Bustamante stated he has been constantly asked about the Town's personnel policy. Mr. Forbes stated that the Council has received the personnel policy back from Attorney Austgen and are currently reviewing the same.

Mr. Gembala asked about updating the emergency disaster plan.

(General discussion ensued.)

Chief Frego stated that as part of the Police Department's accreditation process the emergency disaster plan must be developed.

Mr. Barenie had nothing to report.

Mr. Forbes informed the Council that the consultants are questioning whether there will be a Haunted House this year. He asked if there were any objections to him sitting down and discussing budgets and plans for the Haunted House. The councilmen had no objections. Mr. Forbes stated that there will be a safety inspection of the house and roof of the Haunted House.

Mr. Forbes stated that he had an invoice for 7,000 summer program guidebooks. He asked if there was any objection to adding the Request to Purchase for $4,537.16 to the docket. There were no objections.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve payment and add the invoice to the docket in the amount of $4,537.16. "So moved," by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

CLERK-TREASURER:
Ms. Sury had no reports.

ATTORNEY'S REPORT:
Attorney Austgen had no reports.

TOWN MANAGER:
Mr. Kil refreshed the Council's memory that the Special Events permit was passed last month. He stated he has a request from the St. John Evangelist Church to extend their entertainment hours beyond what is allowed by the permit. The church's request is as follows: Thursday, July 24, until 11:00 p.m., Friday, July 25, until midnight and Saturday, July 26, until midnight.

Mr. Kil stated that the church's festival has been an ongoing event for many years, and the community loves it. He recommended that the Council grant the waiver requesting an extension of hours by St. John Evangelist Church for July 24, July 26, and July 26. Mr. Mr. Kil recommended that the waiver be granted permanently so that it does not have to be done every year.

Mr. Forbes asked if there was any discussion. There was no discussion. Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion to grant the waiver to extend the hours for church festival as recommended by Mr. Kil. "So moved," by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Gembala seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

STAFF:
Chief Willman Chief Willman presented the Fire Department's April, 2014, activity report.

Chief Frego presented the Police Department's April 1-30, 2014, activity report.

* * * * * *

Mr. Forbes remarked that the permit ordinance and schedule was enacted to help the Police Department and staff to coordinate and cover the events. He asked if the Council would allow the Police Chief and the Town Manager to discuss the type of waiver that was just addressed. Mr. Forbes opined that these waivers would be better handled by Mr. Kil and Chief Frego. He asked the Council if they would consider this protocol.

(General discussion ensued.)

Attorney Austgen stated if the Council wishes to give some flexibility to the special events permit process that they have adopted and codified, the ordinance language would need to be amended that reflects that the administrators have been given the authority to review and assess the special events permits. Mr. Forbes remarked that the Council should keep this suggestion in mind to discuss at a later date.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil informed the Council that the housing count is exactly where it was in May of 2013, 71 residential permits.

PAYMENT OF BILLS FOR THE CORPORATION:
Mr. Forbes moved on to payment of the bills. He noted General APVs 10050 through 100260 the amount of $1,768,519.83. He asked if there were any questions on the bills. There were no comments from the councilmen.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. "So moved," by Mr. Volk. Mr. Gembala 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 to the Town Council. He called for public comment. There was no 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. Gembala seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – all. Nays – none. (The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.)

A TRUE COPY

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