St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
Return to Menu

January 29, 2015 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 the January 29, 2015, regular meeting of the St. John Town Council to order at 7:35 p.m.

Mr. Forbes requested a moment of silence after the Pledge of Allegiance in remembrance of Judith Companik, who recently passed away. Ms. Companik served as Clerk-Treasurer for the Town of St. John for 12 years.

(The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)

(A moment of silence was observed.)

ROLL CALL:
Recording Secretary, Susan E. Wright, took roll call with the following members present: Mike Forbes, Larry Bustamante, Greg Volk, and Ken Gembala. Mark Barenie was absent. Staff members present: Steve Kil. Chief Fred Willman and Chief Fred Frego were absent. Attorney Austgen was also present.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
DECEMBER 18, 2014, REGULAR MEETING

Mr. Forbes noted the first item on the agenda was the approval of the meeting minutes of from December 18, 2014, regular meeting. He asked if there were any questions or comments on the meeting minutes. There were no questions or comments.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the meeting minutes of December 18, 2014. Mr. Volk made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 18, 2014, meeting as submitted. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

NEW BUSINESS:
A. CONSIDER ORDINANCE NO. 1595, AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING A ZONE CHANGE FROM I (INDUSTRIAL) AND C-2 (COMMERCIAL) TO R-3 (RESIDENTIAL) AND AMENDING THE MASTER ZONING MAP OF THE TOWN OF ST. JOHN FOR MEYERS DEVELOPMENT (PROPERTY COMMONLY KNOWN AS 8325 WICKER AVENUE). FAVORABLE RECOMMENDATION FROM THE PLAN COMMISSION.

Mr. Forbes noted the first item under New Business was consideration of Ordinance No. 1595, an ordinance authorizing a zone change from I (Industrial) and C-2 (Commercial) to R-3 (Residential) and amending the Master Zoning Map of the Town of St. John for Meyers Development, property commonly known as 8325 Wicker Avenue, St. John, Indiana.

Mr. Forbes stated the property being referred to is the property that the Town purchased by Bingo Lake. He stated that this land was purchased with the intent of improving the intersection by Lake Central Plaza. Mr. Forbes noted that the Plan Commission sent a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for the zoning change and amending of the Master Zoning Map.

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

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1595. “So moved,” by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Attorney Austgen informed the Council that there is a companion item that will track into Plan Commission activity within the next week. He explained that an amendment has been proposed to the Project Development and Financing Agreement.

Attorney Austgen stated that at the inception of this project, the Town co-opted in part to development of the infrastructure and rehabilitation/redevelopment in addition to acquisition of land related to the Meyers project. He stated that the Town had entered into a Project Development and Financing Agreement in December, 2013. Attorney Austgen stated that a proposed amendment has been requested to the agreement as a consequence of all of the conditions in the agreement having been met.

Attorney Austgen stated that the developer had committed a cash participatory amount of $500,000. He stated that improvements have been completed including highway intersection improvements and road improvements. One condition of the property conveyance (minus the road right of way) was contingent upon the aforementioned improvements being completed. The developer has asked for an amendment to allow the ownership to change, with the exception of the road right of way, contingent upon primary plat approval so they can immediately start construction activities.

Attorney Austgen explained that without the conveyance of the property, the developer would be barred from starting construction activities. He stated that the development of the infrastructure will start immediately upon plat approval. Attorney Austgen stated that this phase of the development will coincide with the Town’s intersection improvement project.

Attorney Austgen stated his recommendation to the Council would be to consider allowing this amendment to the Project Development and Financing Agreement to occur, contingent upon tweaking of the amendment by the Town, the developer and the parties’ attorneys.

Mr. Forbes summarized Attorney Austgen’s recommendation as follows: recommending that the Council authorize the conveyance tonight contingent upon approval of the primary plat. Attorney Austgen acknowledged that Mr. Forbes summarization was correct.

Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. Mr. Bustamante made a motion to authorize the conveyance of the property, minus the right of way (right of way to be retained within the plat to the Town for public road purposes) contingent upon primary plat approval. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

B. CONSIDER RESOLUTON NO. 2015-01-29, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE ENTRY INTO A JOINT AGREEMENT WITH THE TOWN OF SCHERERVILLE FOR BUILDING INSPECTION SERVICES.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda was consideration of Resolution No. 2015-01-29, a Resolution Authorizing the Entry into a Joint Agreement with the Town of Schererville for Building Inspection Services. Mr. Forbes remarked that the towns have entered into this joint agreement for quite a few years. He explained that in the event the St. John inspector is not available Schererville’s inspector will come to St. John and the Town of St. John reciprocates by sending their inspector to Schererville, as needed. He commented this is a “nice handshake between our two communities,” and has worked out well. Mr. Forbes stated any cost differential is worked out at the end of the year.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Resolution No. 2015-01-29. “So moved,” by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

C. CONSIDER RESOLUTION NO. 2015-01-29A, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE CLERK-TREASURER TO WRITE-OFF. UN-COLLECTIBLE BAD DEBT (AMBULANCE BILLING).

Mr. Forbes noted the next item to consider was Resolution No. 2015-01-29A, a resolution authorizing the Clerk-Treasurer to write-off uncollectible bad debt (ambulance billing). Mr. Bustamante asked for a total on the uncollectible debt. Mr. Forbes noted the uncollectible debt amounted to $89,819.05.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adopt Resolution No. 2015-01-29A. Mr. Volk made a motion to adopt Resolution No. 2015-01-29A. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

D. ACCEPTANCE OF ANNUAL REPORT AND COMPREHENSIVE REPORT FROM THE REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda for the Council’s consideration and action was Acceptance of the Annual Report and Comprehensive Report from the Redevelopment Commission.

Mr. Gembala made a motion to accept the annual report and comprehensive report from the Redevelopment Commission. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

E. CONSIDER THE 2015 ST. JOHN FIRE DEPARTMENT ROSTER.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council’s consideration was the 2015 St. John Fire Department Roster.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion to accept the 2015 St. John Fire Department Roster. “So moved,” by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

F. CONSIDER DONATION TO LAKE CENTRAL DOLLARS FOR SCHOLARS PROGRAM IN THE AMOUNT OF $500.00 $1,000.00

Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda for the Council’s consideration was a donation to Lake Central Dollars for Scholars program in the amount of $1,000.00. Mr. Forbes stated he had a letter before him requesting a donation. He asked if there were any questions or discussion.

Amy Bogenrief, Dollars for Scholars representative, 9505 Genevieve Drive, St. John, appeared before the Council. She stated she appreciated the Council’s consideration of the donation for the year of 2015. She stated the organization works very hard to help Lake Central students access higher education beyond high school either through technical training, college or university.

Ms. Bogenrief stated that by the end of 2015, the organization hopes to be over the one million dollar mark (since 1991) in awarding scholarships to Lake Central graduates.

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to authorize the donation. “So moved,” by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Bustamante thanked the Dollars for Scholars organization for their volunteering at Christmas in the Park. He stated the volunteers did an excellent job which was very much appreciated.

G. CONSIDER APPROVAL FOR DOG PARK.

Mr. Forbes moved on to considering approval of the dog park. He asked Mr. Volk to elaborate on this matter.

Mr. Volk stated that the dog park project has been “in the works for about a year and a half now.” He stated there are many residents who have requested a dog park. Mr. Volk stated a parcel of land already owned by the Town, an extension of Homestead Park of approximately two acres, is available for the proposed dog park.

Mr. Volk state this parcel has never been developed by the Park District. Mr. Volk stated that Mr. Kraus did extensive engineering of the parcel with costs to develop the proposed dog park of approximately $220,000.

Mr. Kil put the dog park plans on the media screen for review. Mr. Kil stated that the dog park plan includes a parking lot, pavilion, dog and human drinking fountains, bike rack, small dog/big dog parks, a card reader for entry and access to the Town’s bike trail.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil stated that the Town intends to general contract the proposed dog park. He stated that the Town overseeing the project will bring the costs down substantially.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil stated he will have additional details on the proposed dog park to present to the Council in a month or so. He asked the Council members to come up with some names for the proposed dog park.

Mr. Volk stated that the proposed dog park was presented to the Park Board. He stated that although it is a Council project, they wanted the Park District to be aware of what was being proposed.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve development of the dog park with funds not to exceed $140,000. ”So moved,” by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

H. CONSIDER APPROVAL OF THE AGREEMENT FOR RENAMING OF CIVIC MEMORIAL PARK TO VETERANS CIVIC PARK.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council’s consideration was the renaming of Civic Memorial Park to Veterans Civic Park.

Mr. Gembala stated after some discussion with the veterans at the VFW, they decided not to use “memorial” in the name for the park so it would be inclusive of all men and women who served their country, living and deceased.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the agreement to rename Civic Memorial Park Veterans Civic Park. “So moved,” by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

I. CONSIDER RESOLUTION NO. 2015-01-29B, A RESOLUTION TO CHANGE THE NAME OF CIVIC MEMORIAL PARK TO VETERANS CIVIC PARK. (AMENDED - ADDED TO AGENDA).

Mr. Forbes acknowledged that Resolution No. 2015-01-29B, a resolution to change the name of Civic Memorial Park to Veterans Civic Park, was added to the agenda.

Mr. Forbes asked if there was any discussion. There was no discussion. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve Resolution No. 2015-01-29B. “So moved,” by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
TOWN COUNCIL:

Mr. Gembala had nothing additional to report.

Mr. Volk had no reports.

Mr. Bustamante had no reports.

Mr. Forbes remarked he several items to address.

Mr. Forbes stated he had a Request to Purchase in the amount of $3,529.97. These funds would be used to purchase three cabinets for Mylar storage.

Mr. Volk made a motion to approve the Request to Purchase in the amount of $3,529.97. Mr. Gembala seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated he had a Request to Purchase in the amount of $3,390.00. These funds would be used to purchase an alarm notification system for the Town’s SCADA system. He stated the alarm notification would alert authorities if there is an issue with the SCADA system.

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to approve the Request to Purchase in the amount of $3,390.00. Mr. Volk made a motion to approve the Request to Purchase in the amount of $3,390.00. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes presented a Request to Purchase a 2015 Chevy Tahoe. He stated there has been discussion about purchasing a new vehicle for the Town’s mosquito abatement program. Mr. Forbes explained that discussion has been had about converting the pickup truck currently used by the building inspector for use in the mosquito abatement program and purchasing the Chevy Tahoe for use by the building inspector.

Mr. Forbes stated that there is a state bid price in the amount of $34,254.75. He asked if there were any questions. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to approve the Request to Purchase in the amount of $34,254.75. “So moved,” by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated the next two Requests to Purchase deal with Public Works. The first Request to Purchase was for a 2016 Mack Straight Truck chassis. He stated this chassis would be an addition to the Town’s plow fleet. He stated the cab and chassis of the vehicle is in the amount of $93,706.20.

Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions or discussion.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to authorize the Request to Purchase in the amount of $93,706.20. “So moved,” by Mr. Gembala. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated the second half of the Mack Straight Truck chassis acquisition is a Request to Purchase in the amount of $74,384.00. This purchase request was for equipment for the Mack truck including a stainless steel body, plow, hydraulics and salt spreader.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the Request to Purchase in the amount of $74,384.00. “So moved,” by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes stated there was discussion about the Southlake County Community Services bus service at the last meeting. He stated that there had been a request for a donation. Mr. Forbes noted the budgetary information that had been requested by Mr. Barenie at the last Council meeting had been provided by Southlake County Community Services.

Mr. Forbes asked if there was any discussion. There was no discussion.

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to authorize the donation in the requested amount of $3,801.00.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Volk made a motion to authorize a donation in the amount of $3,801.00 to Southlake County Community Services. Mr. Gembala seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Forbes noted that the Council has received the Town’s finance report and everything is looking good. He remarked that years ago a strict protocol was implemented wherein the Council reviewed financial purchases under a watchful eye. Mr. Forbes stated that the results of this effort are evidenced by the Town’s finance report.

Mr. Forbes stated that there has been some discussion about possibly raising the limit of the amount on the requests to purchase so that the Council will not have to review each request. He stated that currently any purchase request over $500.00 must be submitted to Mr. Kil.

Mr. Forbes stated that raising the amount on the purchase requests will eliminate some extra paper work. Mr. Forbes stated a suggestion was made to allow the purchase requests up to $1,500 be approved by Mr. Kil.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil informed the Council that the current practice is any purchase between $500.00 to $2,000.00 must be reviewed by him. He stated any purchase request of $2,000.00 and over must be submitted to the Council. Mr. Kil stated the paperwork generated by these requests are voluminous.

Mr. Kil stated that the department heads are requesting a little more leeway. He remarked that all major purchases will still have to be submitted to the Town Council to be signed off on.

Mr. Forbes recommended granting authority to department heads to purchase items up to $1,500.00 and any purchases over from $1,500.00 to $4,000.00 must be submitted and approved by Mr. Kil. Mr. Kil remarked that the new numbers provided by the Council will allow Attorney Austgen to amend the Town’s ordinance.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes directed Attorney Austgen to amend the ordinance and noted further action could be taken on this matter at the next meeting.

CLERK-TREASURER:
Chief Deputy Clerk Beverly Gawrys was absent.

ATTORNEY’S REPORT:
Attorney Austgen noted that in the 1990s he had the opportunity to work with Judy Companik. He remarked that she was an incredible public servant. Attorney Austgen stated the Town started in the old school house and transitioned during that time into the first part of the current building.

Attorney Austgen stated Mrs. Companik was incredibly solid and a team player, all of which contributed to the Town’s smooth transition from the 19th century into the 20th century. He stated being a team player, level, communicating and working with the Town Council were all qualities encompassed by Judy Companik.

Attorney Austgen commented that Judy Companik will be remembered as one of the great public servants of St. John. He stated all of St. John’s citizens have benefitted, to this day, from Judith Companik’s public service.

Mr. Gembala noted that Judy Companik spent an enormous amount of time finding money in the Town’s budget for the first addition to the Town Hall.

Attorney Austgen stated that accompanying the Council’s approval to accept the agreement of the renaming of Civic Memorial Park to Civic Veterans Park, the Council’s official action would be to act on the renaming with a resolution. He recommended that the Council amend their agenda.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to amend the January 29, 2015, Town Council agenda to include Resolution No. 2015-01-29B. “So moved,” by Mr. Bustamante. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

TOWN MANAGER:
Mr. Kil stated in his 21 years as a Town Manager, this was the first time he was able to make a financial report where the Town’s revenues were so solid. He thanked the Council.

Mr. Forbes accepted Chief Willman and Chief Frego’s monthly reports as submitted.

PAYMENT OF BILLS:
Mr. Forbes moved on to payment of the bills for the corporation. He stated the amount of $1,855,091. 50.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil explained to the Council that APV numbers were gotten rid of. Mr. Forbes noted that Ms. Gawrys explained that the numbering system on the docket has changed due to the upgraded software.

Mr. Kil explained that the individual APVs will be contained in a booklet and will be available for the Council members’ perusal. He stated after payment approval, the Council members will be able to sign off on the report, which will qualify the exact document that the Council has before them.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve payment of the bills in the amount of $1,855,091. 50. Mr. Gembala made a motion to approve pages 1 through 5, voucher registry dated January 29, 2015, for the total amount of $1,855.091.50. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

Mr. Kil stated he would work with Ms. Beverly Gawrys on a more exact identification system for the docket.

PUBLIC COMMENT:
Mr. Forbes opened the floor to public comment. He called for public comment.

Laurel Sadlowski, 1003 Northcott Court
Ms. Sadlowski, a member of the St. John Garden Club, asked for an update on the proposed tree ordinance. She stated this proposal was submitted some time ago. Ms. Sadlowski asked what stage of the process the ordinance is in.

Mr. Kil stated that Attorney Tim Kuiper has the ordinance and a draft has been prepared. He stated he believes that Mr. Sobek, Parks Superintendent, will be submitting the draft ordinance to the Park Board. Mr. Kil stated that the Park Board should be addressing this item in February.

Ms. Sadlowski stated that the Town is missing out on grant money over and over again until an ordinance is put in place.

John Rainwater, 8737 North Oakwood Drive:
Mr. Rainwater informed the Council that NIPSCO is installing a substation at Alexander and 85th Streets. He stated that he talked to a NIPSCO engineer, who said the substation will be completed this year. Mr. Rainwater stated the only other problem he has is with the electrical poles and wires running down Patterson Street from 93rd to 85th. He stated that this equipment is 100 years old.

Mr. Rainwater stated he talked to a NIPSCO representative and found out he was retired from NIPSCO. Mr. Kil stated that the representative Mr. Rainwater is referring to is Dan Piekarski, who now works as a consultant for NIPSCO.

Mr. Rainwater asked if NIPSCO ever intends to replace the poles on Patterson from 93rd Avenue to 85th Avenue. He stated the poles are 100 years old. Mr. Rainwater stated “we keep talking to different engineers,” who informed him that the poles belong to AT&T. He wondered by St. John cannot get a decent power line down Patterson. Mr. Rainwater remarked that AT&T could replace the poles.

Mr. Rainwater informed the Council that NIPSCO is doing a three billion dollar improvement over the next ten years. He asked if the Town of St. John will reap any further benefit from the NIPSCO improvements other than the new substation.

Mr. Rainwater detailed the Town’s electrical pole diagram to the Council. He opined that NIPSCO does things when they want to and don’t inform anyone of anything. Mr. Rainwater stated that the Town expects NIPSCO to provide a safe and reliable service to its citizens.

Mr. Rainwater suggested that the Council invite NIPSCO to a meeting “and see what they intend to do on some of this stuff.” Mr. Rainwater cited some facts about NIPSCO’s equipment from an article.

Mr. Rainwater reiterated that some of the electrical poles are close to 100 years old. He stated that at some point the poles were inspected, tags put on them and “everything is fine.” Mr. Rainwater stated that NIPSCO has not even performed maintenance on the poles and the only new poles are ones that have been knocked down by the traffic on Patterson.

Mr. Forbes informed Mr. Rainwater that through the Town’s discussions with NIPSCO and the projects that NIPSCO is now doing, the problems are being chipped away at. Mr. Forbes stated the changes made by NIPSCO at Lake Central improved his service. He stated the new substation will improve the service. Mr. Forbes reiterated that the Town and NIPSCO are chipping away at the problem.

Mr. Forbes opined if you run in demanding everything you won’t get anything. He stated if the Town works with NIPSCO it is more likely to keep a positive discussion going with them and more things will be accomplished. Mr. Forbes stated the Town is in discussions with NIPSCO about the electrical poles, but he can’t guarantee when they will be replaced.

Mr. Forbes reiterated the Town is trying to keep a positive relationship with NIPSCO. He stated grilling and demanding things from NIPSCO will not help.

Mr. Kil stated that Mr. Piekarski is aware of the electrical pole issue. He stated that NIPSCO wants to get the substation project finished. Mr. Kil stated that Mr. Piekarski has not forgotten about the poles, but there is no time frame for when this project will be started.

Mr. Rainwater detailed the Town’s power grid.

Mr. Rainwater reiterated his suggestion to invite NIPSCO to a meeting to answer some questions. He opined that “We don’t want to make NIPSCO mad. We just would like to invite you out here to answer some of our questions.”

Mr. Forbes stated he did not mean to imply that he was afraid of NIPSCO. He reiterated that he is trying to keep a very positive communication going.

Mr. Rainwater remarked that all of the different people he has talked from NIPSCO talk in circles. Mr. Forbes stated that it is obvious NIPSCO is working with the Town very well, albeit, not working as fast as Mr. Rainwater would like.

Mr. Kil informed Mr. Rainwater in the event he hears of any developments related to the electrical poles on Patterson he will immediately inform him.

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

ADJOURNMENT:
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adjourn. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Bustamante seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none. (The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.)

A TRUE COPY

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