April 28, 2016 Town Council Minutes
|Michael Forbes||Clerk-Treasurer, Beth Hernandez|
|Mark Barenie||Town Manager, Steve Kil|
|Steve Hastings||Chief Fred Willman|
|Christen Jorgensen||Chief James Kveton|
CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. Forbes called the April 28, 2016, regular Town Council meeting to order at 7:18 p.m.
(The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)
Clerk Treasurer, Beth Hernandez took roll call with the following council members present: Michael Forbes, Mark Barenie, Greg Volk, Steve Hastings and Christian Jorgensen. Attorney David Austgen was present. Town Manager, Steve Kil, was present. Chief James Kveton was present. Chief Fred Willman was present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: FEBRUARY 24, 2016
Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion on the minutes of February 24, 2016. He asked if there were any questions on the meeting minutes. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on the minutes. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
MEDAL OF VALOR: DEPUTY CHIEF DAVID DEMETER, OFFICER RONALD OLSON AND OFFICER LUKE SCHREIBER.
Michael Forbes stated a Medal of Valor would be given out tonight to Deputy Chief Demeter, Officer Ronald Olson and Officer Luke Schreiber. He asked Chief James Kveton to proceed to the presentation of the medal.
Chief Kveton: Back in July of 2015, the St. John Police Department responded to an “investigate 911” call. These three officers were the officers that responded and due to their heroism and actions that they took that day, they will be receiving a Medal of Valor this evening. I’m going to read on the Valor Award:
“On July 15, 2015, Officer Olson responded to a hang-up 911 call at 9016 Industrial Drive where it was later learned that an offender with a gun had committed a homicide. Shortly thereafter, Officer Schreiber and Commander --- well, now he’s Deputy Chief --- Commander Demeter arrived to assist in locating the offender. The three officers collaborated, began setting up a perimeter and started clearing the area. They quickly located the offender outside the front of the business. Officers Olson, Schreiber, and Deputy Chief Demeter started giving the offender verbal commands as the offender pulled out a handgun and threatened to shoot himself. Over the next 42 minutes the officers attempted to use less lethal force to take this offender into custody which was not successful.
They also continued negotiating with the offender in attempts to have him surrender his weapon and himself to the officers. Prior to Officer Olson’s arrival, the offender had shot and killed a fellow employee. His intention on killing another individual was prevented by these officers’ arrival and the actions they took that day. The offender, who was captured, later pled guilty and was sentenced to 50 years in jail. Each of these officers should be recognized for their negotiation skills and patience as they responded to this very volatile and life-threatening event. All three officers maintained control and made sure that the surrounding area was as safe as it could be during such a dangerous, fluid and continually evolving situation. These officers didn’t hesitate to act that day. They placed their own lives and safety in harm’s way to protect others.
President Michael Forbes presented each officer with a medal.
The officers were congratulated by each member of the Council.
Mr. Forbes stated a recess would be taken.
(A brief recess was taken.)
Mr. Forbes called the meeting back to order after a brief recess.
PRESENTATION: State Representative Mike Aylesworth and Dan Dernulc
MR. DERNULC: Mr. President and members of the Council, thank you very much for letting me be here today. And I come and I do --- I try to --- before I do that, I was a former councilman --- town councilman in Highland, and --- and Greg, I remember going to down to our first meeting down in Indianapolis ---
MR. VOLK: Yeah.
Mr. DERNULC: --- together and it was you, Bernie and I. But seeing the --- the officers and the Deputy Chief here really, really shows how much this Town appreciates your police. These are true St. John heroes, and, of course, American heroes.
I’ve been a big proponent and --- and I’m always behind our police. Deputy Chief Demeter, Officer Olson and Officer Schreiber, I don’t know if you’re here, but --- you know, thank you very much for what you’ve done for not just this Town but for our county. And in keeping us safe in St. John and everywhere else. It means a lot to us. So thank you very, very much and --- and I’ll let you know from the County how much --- and I think the State how much we appreciate it.
I’m here just to say hi and let you know that, you know, I want to be transparent. I want to be able to let you know that if you need anything from the County, please give me a call. All of you --- I think most of you if not all of you have my number. I’m there to serve and --- and bring any needs that you have that the county can help you with. To the Council, I’m just reiterating my point that I’ve done in the past. And I’ll probably see you by the end of the year also just to say hi again.
MR. AYLESWORTH: As is my custom, I’d like to give a business card, because as your state representative, on occasion, you may want to communicate with me. Some of you have a card. Some of you probably threw darts at it, but --- some of you are new.
MR. DERNULC: Mine is supposed to say “Get out of jail free,” Mike.
MR. AYLESWORTH: That’s my wife, she has that for me.
Yeah, my district is the (unintelligible) to keep get ahold of Dan to keep communication up with the state government and the local town and community, and it’s really a privilege and I’m proud to be here tonight to witness the presentation of those awards to our public servants that serve and protect. We often don’t recognize them as we should. They’re there 24/7. And the Chief knows and anybody that’s been in public service, especially a policeman, when you go into domestics, those are some of the most dangerous situations you can ever find yourself in. And the police are often underappreciated for the work they do in the community. So it’s a privilege to be here tonight.
And one other ironic note, but it’s not anything to do with that, when I worked for nine years for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management I often went to Fremont, Indiana. And the person, the State Rep that represents that is right next to me in the cubicle in our work space in Indianapolis, and he was a dentist and he has that area. And we often talked together about the commonality of the areas. So it’s really going to be nice that --- I’ll tease Dr. Zanda about the nice award that you gave to --- gave the community, which is really nice. And it shows that you can work together because that town is five miles from Ohio and five miles from Michigan. It’s an old, old town like St. John, going back to the 1830s, and it’s got some infrastructure issues that I helped them work through, but I know they really appreciate the ability to do what they needed to do with technology. So it’s sort of an ironic thing that I’m here tonight. I’ve been to that town many times, so ---
Now, do you have questions of me, as a state representative? And no, I don’t have a satchel full of money.
(General discussion ensued.)
Any questions of me? Otherwise, I’ll let you continue on your normal business process here tonight. And I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you every couple of years and say hi.
MR. FORBES: It’s good to see you both.
MR. DERNULC: Thank you, Mike.
MR. FORBES: Next is Lake Central School Board member Janice Malchow.
MS. MALCHOW: Hi, thank you for the opportunity to come tonight before you, and I apologize, Mr. Forbes, because I misled you. I’m not representing Lake Central School Board tonight. So if you want to change that on your agenda, I’m not representing Lake Central School Board.
I’m representing, actually, Tri-Town Safety Village. I wanted to make you aware of a project that we have going on at the village. And we certainly do appreciate the support we receive from St. John in many ways, through the fire and police and obviously, through your financial donation.
Years ago, thirty years ago, there was a young man who attended Lake Central High School, and his name is Doug DeVries. Doug DeVries is the son of Dr. DeVries, the veterinarian that’s retired out of Dyer. Well, Doug was in Tom Clark’s U.S. History class and Doug said, ‘Mr. Clark, what about these Viet Nam veterans and service men that we are not representing?” An idea formulated, and I think it’s a national initiative, and they, meaning the students and Mr. Clark at Lake Central High School, gravitated towards that project and they have a phenomenal memorabilia collection, over 30 years that is in Mr. Clark’s U.S. history class at Lake Central High School.
It’s so outstanding. I had no idea --- I’d never heard of Mr. Clark when I was a principal at Bibich School --- I think I heard that he was pretty cool, but never had any idea what he did until I went to his class room. I was like amazed at what this gentleman has done. Did you have---
MS. HERNANDEZ: I had Mr. Clark. I sure did.
MS. MALCHOW: Oh, my gosh. It’s just phenomenal. So Steve, I’m going to leave these pictures with you. These are the displays of World War I and, I think, the Korean War. These are on display in the entrance of Lake Central High School. But in addition to that, we want to establish a museum on the Safety Village campus because we know that it would be a phenomenal field trip in the future for children to learn about veterans, POW, MIA --- what does all that mean? What have these gentlemen gone through? Mr. Clark and his --- and his students have established a great reputation with parents over the years. It’s just phenomenal to hear the stories. Parents that will call or write him and say, “Hey, you know, I’m 85. I don’t know what to do with my son’s uniform. I would like to donate it to you.” Also his Purple Heart. He has wonderful display units. It’s just outstanding.
I was --- I’m not --- I’m still in amazement at what these kids have done. So 30 years of memorabilia and we need to make sure it’s protected and safe for our future. So as you know, the Safety Village is a 501 3c so we don’t have a great amount of funding for these type of activities so we are turning to our public and we are hosting, on May 21, a 3k, 5k, 10k walk/run combination for a minimal fee, but all the proceeds from that will go to the construction of a future veterans’ museum on the Safety Village campus.
In addition to that, in the afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:00, Mr. Clark and his current U.S. history students will have a display, and you will just be so amazed at what he has. He has been interviewed by U.S. News and World Reports, Washington Post. If you ever have a dull moment, go to U.S. History Man on You Tube --- U.S. History Man, and you will find out a little bit more about Mr. Clark and his students, and obviously, that you participated in that too, so --- that’s what I’m here to represent, not Lake Central and the (unintelligible word) --- sorry --- but the Safety Village.
So I’m hoping that we can get your support on that in the future. And I have a little palm card for each of you. I’ll give this to Mr. Kil and he can put it on your mailboxes. Thank you.
MR. FORBES: Thank you very much.
(General discussion ensued.)
A. TO CONSIDER THE 2016 COMMUNITY BLOCK DELVELOPMENT GRANT --- PUBLIC HEARING --- CDBG PROJECT.
Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda was a public hearing for the 2016 Community Block Development Grant. He asked Attorney Austgen if the Proofs of Publication were in order. Attorney Austgen acknowledged that the Proofs of Publication were in order and the public hearing could be properly conducted tonight. Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil for opening remarks.
Mr. Kil stated that the Council would find in their packets information summarizing the proposed project. He stated that there would be a sidewalk replacement along Thielen Street near the Public Works. Mr. Kil stated that the area has been reviewed and pictures taken, and all of the necessary income surveys and analysis have been completed. Mr. Kil stated that this was the last step of the process, required by HUD through the County Economic Development Department, and ending with the Council passing a resolution that authorizes a project submittal by the Town Council president.
Mr. Kil stated that the agenda lays out the format that must be followed. He stated that there are only a few things that need to be read. Mr. Kil asked Attorney Austgen to further elaborate on the agenda.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Kil asked the Council to move on while he took a brief leave of the meeting.
Mr. Forbes asked if any councilmen had any objection to moving on in the agenda. There were no objections.
B. CONSIDER REQUEST FOR A SPECIAL EXCEPTION FOR PROVIDENCE BANK.
Mr. Forbes stated the first item under New Business for the Council’s action was to consider a request for a special exception for Providence Bank. He stated that this matter comes before the Council with a favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission. Mr. Forbes informed the Council that Providence Bank is looking to locate on the corner of 101st and Calumet Avenues. He stated that the bank’s plan is currently under the review by the Plan Commission.
Mr. Forbes stated that, as required by Town Ordinance, a bank requires a special use permit. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions regarding the request for a special exception by Providence Bank. There were no questions.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the special exception with any and all stipulations and incorporating the findings of fact by reference. So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
C. CONSIDER ACCEPTANCE OF UNIFORM CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURE FOR MR. MICHAEL MEUNICH.
Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda for the Council’s action was to consider acceptance of a uniform conflict of interest disclosure for Mr. Michael Muenich. He stated that this is a yearly event for the Council; he stated that the conflict of interest disclosure is needed because Mr. Muenich is an attorney who occasionally represents the Town and the St. John Fire Department. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the uniform conflict of interest disclosure for Attorney Michael Muenich. There were no questions.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the disclosure as presented. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
D. CONSIDER AUTHORIZATION OF THE INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT FOR CALUMET AVENUE AND WEST 101ST AVENUE.
Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the Council’s agenda was to consider authorization of the intersection improvement for Calumet Avenue and West 101st Avenue. He stated that this project includes right of way acquisition and engineering for signalization of a stop light at the intersection.
Mr. Forbes stated at the Plan Commission it was discussed the Providence Bank will add a turning lane on 101st Avenue as part of their project. He stated additional right of way will be sought along Calumet Avenue. Mr. Forbes stated that the Plan Commission members felt that it was unreasonable to expect the bank to signalize the intersection considering the fact that it is a failed intersection now.
Mr. Forbes stated that the thought process here is to begin the land acquisition, begin the engineering and continue the discussion with Lake County. He stated improvements of the other intersections will continue to be discussed, 109th and Calumet Avenue(s) and 101st and Sheffield Avenue(s). Mr. Forbes stated that the project needs to be a collaborative effort, but this improvement shows how serious the Council is about the project and the need to address the concerns that are occurring in these areas.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions or comments on this project. There were no questions or comments from the Council. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize the project engineering and right of way acquisition. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes stated that the meeting would back up now and continue with the CDBG public hearing.
PUBLIC HEARING (CONTINUED)
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil if he was ready to proceed with the CDBG. Mr. Kil stated he was ready for the opening remarks for the CDBG public hearing.
Mr. Kil read the opening remarks as follows:
“Each spring the Lake County Community Development Department applies to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for new funding through the Community Development Block Grant program, the CDBG.
One of the application requirements is to hold public hearings in the communities where CDBG funding is allocated in order to obtain input from local citizens on the proposed uses of the funding.
For fiscal year 2016, the Town of St. John CDBG allocation is $69,500.00. The most common use of CDBG funds is for infrastructure including street reconstruction, sanitary sewers, water line extensions, storm drainage improvements, sidewalks and projects to remove architectural barriers, i.e., handicapped access such as curb cuts and wheel chair ramps. CDBG funds may also be used to eliminate slums and blight through demolition of unsafe buildings or other clearance activities.
CDBG funded infrastructure projects may only be done in areas where the neighborhood is at least fifty-one (51) percent low to moderate income according to HUD guidelines. In most cases, an income survey must be done to qualify the area for funding eligibility. The income for information taken by the survey is strictly confidential and is used solely for the purposes of determining the area’s eligibility for CDBG funding.
Handicap access projects and demolition may be one anywhere in the community without the need for an area income determination. The public hearing is just the start of the application process for Lake County. There are a series of legal advertisements and comment periods to take place during the summer prior to final grant approval from HUD in late August. New CDBG funding is released to the County and its entitlement communities on or around September 1 and needs to be expended by June 13, of the following year.
After public comment tonight, three documents need to read and adopted, the affirmative action program, Section Three Understanding, and the resolution authorizing the Town executive --- that would be our council president --- to submit a project proposal for CDBG funding. Finally, project applications and supporting documentation need to be submitted no later than May 20, 2016, for review by Lake County.”
Mr. Forbes acknowledged Mr. Kil’s reading of the CDBG opening remarks. Attorney Austgen stated when the proceeding was concluded, as part of the agenda, those items should be incorporated into the public meeting minutes verbatim.
Mr. Kil read as follows: “This is the Affirmative Action Program implementing Section Three of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968.”
Mr. Forbes stated he would open the floor to public comment.
Rita Berg, 10351 Joliet Street:
Ms. Berg stated she was back on her same, old bandstand. She stated she would like to see Joliet Street to be improved and get some of the grant money to start working on Joliet Street. Ms. Berg stated this would get the kids and older folk that are wandering up and down her street with much terror right now some sidewalks so they can walk and not be worried about getting hurt.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street:
Mr. Swets stated “There was discussion at a Council meeting in February about residents’ requests for sidewalks on Joliet Street”. He stated that the Town finally has some money in front of them that would allow the Town to do that. He asked why this project, since it was discussed all the way back in February, wasn’t brought up in this year’s project. Mr. Swets stated since the resolution has not been approved yet, he would like to see this money go towards Rita’s neighborhood and her sidewalks.
Mr. Kil explained that a project requires an income survey and an income survey was done last year for the Thielen Street project. He stated that Thielen Street needs sidewalks too. He stated that the income survey was done in accordance with the actual project before the Council tonight. Mr. Forbes concurred; he stated that the income survey is the tool that determines if a project can be done in a certain area.
Mr. Kil stated, as was read in the opening remarks, the area has to be fifty-one (51) percent low to moderate income area per the HUD guidelines. Mr. Forbes stated, for clarification purposes, projects are often offered and thought of but they may not qualify, again, because of income.
(General discussion ensued.)
MS. BERG: Okay. Let me --- one comment about that. Nobody has ever come by our neighborhood and done any kind of a survey to qualify for this. So I just wanted to stick that out there.
MR. FORBES: Right. And in order --- in order to do that, we would need to do that survey.
MS. BERG: Yeah.
MR. FORBES: So don’t --- I mean, we can’t just---
MS. BERG: I know. I understand. What I’m saying is it hasn’t been done.
MR. FORBES: But we have --- we have discussed with you sidewalks on Joliet Street and---
MS. BERG: Right.
MR. FORBES: ---nobody is in opposition to it.
MS. BERG: Okay. I just know that we aren’t --- I know you can’t do it this time---
MR. FORBES: Right.
MS. BERG: Because we haven’t been authorized yet as far as the HUD standards.
MR. FORBES: But again, there’s no guarantee that we could use CDBG money in your area to do these sidewalks.
MS. BERG: I understand.
MR. FORBES: Okay. Just so we’re all clear.
MS. BERG: Yeah, we’re all clear. I just wanted you guys to know too that I ---
MR. FORBES: We’re ---
MS. BERG: --- know what they’ve done so far.
MR. FORBES: We hear you.
MR. KIL: Hey, Mike, the $69,500, our allocation of CDBG funds, that’s a two-year allocation. They’ve changed the program to once every two years. So we won’t be getting money next year. It won’t be until the following year. We’ll be sitting here in ’18 at this exact time doing another project proposal.
MR. FORBES: Part of the money that we used to get automatically goes to the Southlake Bus, correct?
MR. KIL: Southlake County Community Services, yes.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oak Ridge Drive:
Mr. Hero stated that this is federal money, community grant money. He stated what is required is that the Town get public input into how the money is spent. Mr. Hero stated if it has already been decided in advance that another street is going to be done, then the Town stifles any public comment.
Mr. Hero stated that the Town has already decided what they’re going to do. He stated that public comment to put the sidewalk on Joliet Street is meaningless. Mr. Hero stated that public comment should have been had and if there was enough people on Joliet Street who have no sidewalks at all --- and it’s a very heavily traveled street compared to Thielen.
Mr. Hero stated that the Town has put money into a dog park and they leave no sidewalks on Joliet Street. He stated that he does not believe that the Town has followed the proper guidelines in arbitrarily picking a neighborhood first to do the study. He stated then the Town stated that Joliet doesn’t qualify because the study wasn’t done and their decision was already predisposed in the making. Mr. Hero stated that this defeats the purpose of a public hearing and public comments for the people who live on Joliet that asked for the sidewalks.
Mr. Hero stated he objects to the way the Town is doing the project. He opined that the feds should review how the money is spent and the fact that the Town went ahead and picked a neighborhood without asking for input and doing an analysis on their income. He reiterated, “You’ve already predisposed yourself. You’ve defeated the purpose of the public hearing and the comments of those people who live on Joliet. For those reasons, I object to the way you’re doing the project.”
Mr. Forbes called for further public comment on the CDBG project.
Tom Parada, 9535 Joliet Street:
Mr. Parada stated, “There is some duplicity here. (Unintelligible words.). Rita Berg has politely and diligently been asking for this for decades and I think she deserves it.” Mr. Parada stated he lives on Joliet Street and the sidewalks stop right in front of his house. He stated it is a 20 mile an hour zone, and zero percent of the cars that drive by his house are going 20 miles per hour.
Mr. Parada stated he feels very adamant about the fact that it’s time that pressure is put on the powers that be to make this happen. He stated it has been a long time now. Mr. Parada stated he has lived in St. John for 57 years, for the most part. He reiterated that it is time that the sidewalks stop ending in front of his house.
Gary Curtis, 12600 102nd Avenue:
Mr. Curtis stated that everyone is aware of the lawsuits plaguing the Town. He stated that everyone knows that they are the result of questionable actions of individuals and not the Town Council itself, as a few have implied.
Mr. Forbes informed Mr. Curtis that the public hearing now being held was for comments related to the CDGB project. He stated that it does not sound like Mr. Curtis’ comments are related to the public hearing. Mr. Forbes explained that there is a public comment period, but this public hearing was specifically related to the CDBG project.
Mr. Forbes apologized for interrupting Mr. Curtis and told him that he would be called back up during the appropriate public comment period.
Mr. Forbes called twice for additional public comment related to the CDBG project. There was no further public comment. Mr. Forbes closed the public hearing and brought the matter back before the Council.
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil to read Section Three, the Understanding Form. Mr. Kil stated that the record should reflect that the entirety the Lake County, Indiana, Section Three Understanding Form, which he read by title only, would be made a part of the record.
E. RESOLUTION NUMBER 2016-04-28 --- A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE 2016 CDBG PROJECT AND DIRECTING THE TOWN COUNCIL PRESIDENT TO SUBMIT A PROJECT PROPOSAL.
Mr. Forbes noted Resolution Number 2017-04-28, a resolution authorizing the 2016 CDGB project and directing the Town Council president to submit a project proposal was next on the agenda.
Mr. Forbes read as follows: “Resolution Number 2016-04-28, this is a resolution authorizing and directing the Town Council president of the Town of St. John to submit a project proposal for community development block grant fund for federal fiscal years 2016 through 2017.” He asked if there were any questions on this resolution or the public hearing. There were no questions.
Mr. Forbes stated he would like to make one comment before a vote was taken. He stated he does support Ms. Berg’s sidewalk proposal. Mr. Forbes stated that there has been previous discussion about sidewalks on Joliet Street. He stated that in a previous council he brought up sidewalks on Joliet Street and the residents along Joliet Street did not want sidewalks at that time. Mr. Forbes stated that the residents did not want to give up the easements and did not want the sidewalks on their property.
Mr. Forbes stated he vehemently disagreed with the residents’ posture at that time. He stated he agreed that there should be sidewalks throughout the Town. Mr. Forbes stated he is hoping to be able to move the Joliet Street sidewalk project forward one way or another, whether it’s CDBG money or otherwise, he fully supports the desire to have sidewalks put in along Joliet Street. Mr. Forbes commented he felt it is important to have sidewalks along Joliet Street due to the amount of traffic.
Mr. Kil stated he received two calls from residents on Joliet Street on this date. He stated that he would like to ask when the CDGB project comes up again in two years that he gets help from the residents on Joliet Street in order to complete the required surveys and acquire the necessary right of way. Mr. Kil stated he will be calling upon the residents of Joliet Street for their help in the future in order to get the project done.
Mr. Barenie asked for a ball park estimate on the costs to have sidewalks put in on Joliet Street.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes stated the Council could ask the Town’s engineer to lay out the sidewalks on Joliet Street and provide them with a potential cost of what the project would be if the Town were to proceed without CDBG funds. Mr. Kil stated he would get a cost estimate from the Town’s engineer.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes asked for additional comment from the councilmen. There was no further comment. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Resolution Number 2016-04-28. ” So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
Mr. Jorgensen apologized for missing the last Council meeting. He stated he was out of town. Mr. Jorgensen stated that based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 Supreme Court 221A he would like to make a motion today to repeal Ordinance Number 1483, Chapter 15, Section 8.2, entitled Permitted Political Signs in its entirety effective immediately. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the motion. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes asked for a vote on the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen requested, if proper, Attorney Austgen would draft an applicable ordinance repealing Ordinance Number 1483, Chapter 15, Section 8.2, making the date of the repeal retroactive to today’s date. Attorney Austgen stated this would be perfectly acceptable.
Mr. Volk had nothing to report. Mr. Hastings had nothing to report.
Mr. Barenie suggested that the Council give some thought to the residents’ request of possibly posting the accounts payable vouchers on the website. He stated this would give residents an opportunity to take a look at the vouchers. Mr. Barenie stated this method would be sustainable and green.
Ms. Hernandez stated she was okay with this as the copies could be rather voluminous.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes stated he would like to make a comment on a matter that seems to be causing a lot of confusion. He stated that tax bills have come out recently and he has been fielding numerous phone calls related to the tax bills. Mr. Forbes stated comment has been made on social media that the Town Council has taken no action regarding the “big box issue” that they are facing.
Mr. Forbes stated that a lot of businesses are going in and looking for tax cuts that end up being quite substantial. Mr. Forbes stated that the Council is concerned about it. He stated Melody Kikkert was invited to and spoke at the Council last meeting wherein she explained the situation and the process that she was currently involved in in fighting the assessments. Mr. Forbes stated Ms. Kikkert asked the Council to join in her efforts and the Council immediately joined in.
Mr. Forbes stated that there have been two subsequent meetings since Ms. Kikkert’s presentation. Mr. Forbes noted that Mr. Jorgensen attended the last meeting and Mr. Kil has attended a couple of meetings. Mr. Kil stated that the Town is well-represented at these meetings.
Mr. Forbes reiterated that the Council is very concerned and very involved in the tax appeals process. He stated that there is an accusation out there that the Council is contemplating some sort of a tax and nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Forbes stated that the Council is not looking to tax the residents in order to make up for the potential losses that would be seen by restructurings.
Mr. Forbes stated that there is another issue related to taxes, and this is predominantly in Hanover Township. He stated that there are comments being made that due to the Town’s “fiscal inadequacies” residents have seen marked raises in their property taxes. Mr. Forbes stated that the fact of the matter is, if one looks at their tax bills they will see that the corporate tax rate for St. John has dropped.
Mr. Forbes stated that the tax rate for Hanover School District has risen significantly, and it is due to the fact that the referendum has come on line and people are now seeing the real and true numbers associated with the value of their properties and the impact of the referendum.
Mr. Jorgensen commented further on the “big box issue.” He stated just for everyone’s edification and those in St. John Township covered by Melanie Kikkert, the ongoing litigation is being covered by the county and Commissioner Scheub. He stated Jerome Prince and the county assessor are the only individuals who can bring a claim before IPTR. He stated, unfortunately, Melanie Kikkert cannot do this on her own.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that the residents in St. John Township are going to be somewhat at the mercy of Jerome Prince and Commissioner Scheub in the respect that they are the ones who will be called upon to defend the assessments. Mr. Jorgensen stated that the Council has supported Melanie Kikkert in every way that they possibly can knowing that her assessments and work are top notch. Mr. Jorgensen stated that the Council is certainly staying involved as best they can at the county level to ensure that there is consistency in the assessments throughout Lake County.
Mr. Forbes stated he appreciated Mr. Jorgensen’s explanation. He noted that Ms. Kikkert is in Dyer tonight trying to recruit them. Mr. Forbes stated if all of the Towns are united in this and back up the county, hopefully things can move forward and the Towns can be protected.
Ms. Hernandez gave an update on the audit. She stated that they are approximately mid-way through the audit. Ms. Hernandez stated that Michelle, the State Board of Accounts auditor, has been extremely helpful and is working with her entire staff.
Ms. Hernandez states that the information gleaned from the audit so far has been invaluable as it relates to evaluating some serious safety concerns that were identified, the way in which the residents’ money is handled and processed internally and general day to day work flow. She stated that this information is being passed along to the different departments. Ms. Hernandez stated that communication, accountability and efficiency is improving town wide.
Mr. Forbes asked for an update on the software upgrade. Ms. Hernandez stated that she should have something to present within the next month. She stated that it is going to be a huge undertaking that will affect every single department. Ms. Hernandez stated that the software update will offer residents on-line bill pay, account set-up, and enable them to take care of business right from their computers. She stated that the software upgrade will enable the Town to have a work flow from department to department which will give them a check and balance accountability.
Attorney Austgen had nothing to report.
Mr. Kil had nothing further to report.
Chief Kveton submitted his monthly report to the Council. He gave the Council a brief update on the criminal investigation involving a bomb threat. Chief Kveton stated that last week seven schools in the surrounding area were closed due to the bomb threat. He thanked all of the responding agencies that aided the Police Department on the day of the bomb threat. Chief Kveton extended thanks to the 50 law enforcement officers and 19 K9 units that responded.
Chief Kveton stated that the daytime burglaries in Town continue and he implored all residents to report any suspicious persons or vehicles in neighborhoods, and stay on the telephone with the dispatcher until the officer arrives.
Chief Kveton stated a community outreach program has been instituted. He stated he created a warning letter asking people to be more neighborly with their friends and neighbors by not parking over the sidewalks. Chief Kveton stated that there is an ordinance that can be enforced for the sidewalks but he’s really hoping for compliance.
Chief Kveton stated he has been working on the railroad issue which seems to be a longstanding problem in St. John. He stated with the exception of last Tuesday, the Town has gone almost a month without a blockage. Chief Kveton stated he called CSX and they were right on the problem. He stated that it appears that the efforts to keep the tracks clear is working.
(General discussion ensued.)
Chief Willman submitted the March, 2016, St. John Fire Department report.
Mr. Forbes thanked Chief Willman and Chief Kveton for their tireless service to the Town. He stated that the Council appreciates the hard work of the Chiefs and their staff.
(General discussion ensued.)
PAYMENT OF THE BILLS:
Mr. Forbes moved on to payment of the bills for the corporation. He stated the general APV docket is eight pages. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any additions to the docket. Ms. Hernandez stated that there was one addition, the invoice of Jeff Gunning in the amount of $42,842.50.
Mr. Forbes noted the total amount of the docket with the addition is $1,571,697.36. Ms. Hernandez concurred. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the bills.
Mr. Jorgensen asked for some clarification for the add-on bill. Ms. Hernandez stated this invoice was for attorney’s fees. Mr. Jorgensen noted that these attorney’s fees were from the former Clerk-Treasurer, Sherry Sury, in a lawsuit with the Town Council. Ms. Hernandez stated that the invoice is for services rendered in 2015.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on payment of the bills in the amount of $1,571.697.36. “l’ll make a motion,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion and stated he had one comment. He asked why it would take a year to get Mr. Gunning’s detailed legal bill. Mr. Barenie stated he would like the residents that showed up at tonight’s meeting to know that it took a whole year for a legal bill to be turned in to the Town.
Attorney Austgen explained that the Council was presented with an invoice from Mr. Gunning at the December meeting, and the minutes will reflect that the Council declined to consider the invoice at that time. Mr. Barenie stated that the bill that was presented in December was for twelve months’ worth of billings and hours that wasn’t even presented to the Council until December.
Mr. Jorgensen commented that the bill is a large amount for the Town to deal with at this late date, but at least Attorney Austgen obtained a deduction. Mr. Jorgensen stated that this was appreciated.
Mr. Forbes noted that there was a motion and a second. He asked for a vote. The motion was carried by voice vote. Ayes --- five. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes opened the floor to public comment.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oak Ridge Drive:
Mr. Hero complimented Chief Kveton for building morale back up for a police force that has been under attack over the last couple of years. He stated Chief Kveton is doing a good job and is the right chief in the right place. Mr. Hero stated he hoped his comments don’t sabotage his efforts “with these guys.”
Mr. Hero stated he really appreciates what Chief Kveton has done in looking at the response time for 911. He stated that the 911 review has to be in more detail because “We’re looking for the one call that takes 15-20 minutes.”
Mr. Hero stated that the Chief now needs to go to the next step and (unintelligible word) because somebody could die on the (unintelligible word) if the response time is too long. Mr. Hero thanked Chief Kveton for his efforts.
Mr. Hero stated that there have been a lot of burglaries and crime going on that has never been heard about before. He opined that the police force needs to be increased and establish a crime watch again and make it active in the community. Mr. Hero stated that there are a lot of people coming to the meetings now. He stated it’s kind of a new era for the Council now where there used to be only a few people in the audience.
Mr. Hero reiterated that the crime watch should be reinstated and the police force should be increased due to what is happening in the community. Mr. Hero stated that the Council should quit playing the “political stuff about development and all that” and install a full stop light at U.S. 41 and Joliet Street. He opined that this is the worst and most hazardous intersection in Town with more accidents and injures than any place he could imagine.
Mr. Hero stated that there is an election and some precincts have been pushed to Lake Central. He opined this is going to present a big traffic nightmare. He asked that the Council along with the Police Department, on May 3, help direct traffic at Lake Central because there are going to be a lot of problems.
Mr. Hero stated that the Council haggled over the $42,000. He stated that the other side of the coin is how much did the Town Attorney make on fighting the Clerk-Treasurer. Mr. Hero stated he was going to take a guess and double that amount to $80,000-$100,000 of funds wasted just to stop the old Clerk-Treasurer from taking the minutes of the meeting.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he appreciated Mr. Hero’s guesswork. He asked Ms. Berg if she recalled back when there was an issue at U.S. Route 41 and Joliet and he and Mr. Kil requested that INDOT do a study for signalization at this intersection. Mr. Jorgensen stated he specifically requested a “no left turn” sign at that time. Mr. Jorgensen stated that INDOT denied this request. He stated he just wanted to clarify this. Mr. Jorgensen stated he has discussed this matter with Ms. Berg, but it always seems to come up again and again.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that U.S. Route 41 is a state road and it is controlled by the state, and he believes Mr. Hero knows this. For clarification, Mr. Jorgensen reiterated that U.S. Route 41 is a state road and the Town was denied signalization. He stated that the Town is still waiting and following up with the “no left turn” sign at U.S. 41. Mr. Jorgensen stated he has not forgotten about Ms. Berg’s issue.
(General discussion ensued.)
State Representative Aylesworth stated he would follow through and visit with INDOT on the next day with this issue.
Rob Kmet, 8581 (unintelligible) Lane:
Mr. Kmet thanked Chief Kveton for working on the railroad blockings. He stated it has probably been two years in the making. Mr. Kmet stated he dealt with Lake County and he could get no resolution to this problem, and in just a couple of months Chief Kveton has taken care of this problem. He thanked Chief Kveton and the Council.
Jerry Swets, 9490 Joliet Street:
Mr. Swets thanked Chief Kveton for the work he has done on the railroad blocking. He also thanked Mary Robert because she’s the one who actually found the state ordinance and worked with Lake County as well. Mr. Swets stated this was a group effort. He also thanked the homeowner’s group.
Mr. Swets stated that the bill payment is going to be placed online, and he realizes that he will have to wait until the minutes are approved. Ms. Hernandez stated she believes once the docket is ready she will be able to upload it on the website.
Mr. Swets stated that it doesn’t appear that the public comments are in the order they need to be in at the end of the meeting. He stated at the end of the meeting the Council has already made all of their decisions. Mr. Swets stated he had a question, for example, on “Item C” under “New Business,” about the stop light at Calumet and 101st. Mr. Swets stated at the last meeting of the Plan Commission, it was stated that this can’t be done yet because it would just back up traffic at Sheffield and other places. He asked if there was a time frame for this.
Mr. Forbes responded that the Council is still in discussion about the entire project.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Swets stated he understands the Council’s concerns for the issues on Joliet Street. He stated, personally, doesn’t want to see a “no left turn” in and out of Joliet Street.
Gary Curtis, 12600 102nd Avenue:
Mr. Curtis stated that everyone is aware of the lawsuits plaguing the Town and everyone knows that they are the result of questionable actions of individuals and not the Town Council itself as some have made it sound. He stated on behalf of everyone who realizes this point, he supports the Town Council and hopes for a speedy resolution to all of these problems.
Steve Urbanski, 13281 West 90th Avenue:
Mr. Urbanski stated that he did not want to break protocol, but he wanted to address Mr. Swets and Mr. Hero. He asked if it was true that they were filing a lawsuit against the Town in reference to the issue they had with the signs.
Mr. Forbes stated he appreciated Mr. Urbanski’s concern about this matter, but this conversation should not be taking place during the meeting. Attorney Austgen stated that this is a litigation matter. Mr. Forbes directed Mr. Urbanski to take his questions for Mr. Swets and Mr. Hero outside of the meeting. He apologized for the inconvenience.
Mr. Urbanski stated he would make a comment. He stated that, once again, the Town has been through enough with lawsuits and that for the PAC organization to bring forth another frivolous lawsuit and have the Town have to finance it is something that is unnecessary. Mr. Forbes stated that the Council appreciates his comment.
Mike McPhillips, St. John Township:
Mr. McPhillips stated he has seen the Town grow and a wonderful job is being done despite some disruptive forces. He stated that he’s been to many public meetings and Town Council meetings most of his adult life. Mr. McPhillps stated that there are always going to be some disruptive forces and some efforts to micromanage.
Mr. McPhillips stated that the Town Council has done a wonderful job. He stated that the Town has developed by leaps and bounds and has a wonderful Police and Fire Department. Mr. McPhillips stated it is great to see all of the people out and involved in the Town Council meetings. He told the Town Council to keep up the good work and thanked them for their service.
Mr. Forbes thanked Mr. McPhillips on behalf of the Town Council.
Mary Robert, 11990 Heron Lake Road:
Ms. Robert stated at the last Council meeting everyone received an “Open Government Secures Liberty.” She stated it is important for everyone to embrace the idea of increasing government transparency as a means of securing freedom. Founding Father, Patrick Henry, said “The liberties of people never will or will ever be secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them”
Ms. Robert stated she has brought up the trees before. She stated that she was informed that the Tree Board was not complete and that they were hoping that a master gardener would be on the Tree Board. Ms. Roberts stated that there are over 30 million trees infested with a disease. She stated every surrounding community has dealt with this, Hammond, Schererville, Dyer and Highland.
Ms. Robert stated that Wicker Park alone took out 259 diseased trees. She stated that the Town needs to hire an arborist and address this issue before the Town loses something that they cannot get back in a matter of a day or two.
Ms. Robert stated she is disappointed that the Town is not involved in the Indiana Bicentennial. She is disappointed that the Town is not involved with NIRPCI. Ms. Robert stated that NIRPCI has article after article of issues the Town could be involved in. Ms. Robert stated that St. John is the only Town that is not involved. She stated that the Town is losing all kinds of money.
Ms. Roberts stated there is $1.5 million for purchasing vehicles, and an $800,000 request by Hammond for funding and she reiterated that the Town is not a part of this. She stated that Lake Station just signed the Ethics Group and St. John is still the only town that does not belong to the Ethics Group.
Ms. Roberts noted the Tri-Town Fire Territory is under review. She stated the Town should hold off purchasing another fire truck until they find out where they are going to be with this.
Ms. Robert stated she was at the Schererville Police Station the other day and she noticed they have a wonderful program called (unintelligible). She stated she would like to see (unintelligible) on the Town’s squads as it would save a lot of lives.
Ms. Robert stated that the Town is not listed on the Public Region Safety Board. She questioned the advertisement that says “The Future hold on the Lake County School System,” which is in Renaissance. She stated she was confused by this also.
Dale Robert, 11990 Heron Lake Road:
Mr. Robert stated hopefully last month’s meeting minutes were read. He stated a lot of people are concerned about the way the Ordinance No. 1623 was passed. Mr. Robert stated he was glad to see a Plan Commission meeting held and making comments there and how Greystone subdivision went.
Mr. Robert opined that if the residents of St. John wish to boycott Schilling Lumber they are entitled to do so.
Mr. Robert stated he noticed an increase on his water bill this month. He stated that the increase will start in May. He asked if there was a contract with Republic at the present time. Mr. Kil stated that there was a contract in place.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Robert stated Schererville renegotiated their contact with Republic and their monthly charges are less than St. John and it’s the same company. He stated Lowell also renegotiated their contract with Republic. Mr. Kil stated that there is no question that the contract will be bid out as soon as it expires.
Mr. Robert stated that there was a meeting of the Contractor’s Board on April 4 for a complaint that was filed in December. He stated that the records are incomplete at this time, but the current claims that he brought up previously is up to nearly $1,500. Mr. Robert stated it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot more than what they paid the assistant administrator in the Building Department in previous years.
Tom Parada, 9295 Joliet Street:
Mr. Parada stated he is the chairman of the St. John Homeowner’s PAC. He explained that the PAC formed to kind of keep an eye on things that were going on in Town. Mr. Parada stated that the federal court does not think their lawsuit, when it comes to freedom of speech, is a frivolous lawsuit. Mr. Parada opined that the lawsuit is not frivolous.
Mr. Forbes directed Mr. Parada to refrain from discussing litigation.
Mr. Parada stated that he would like to remind Mr. Jorgensen, that Mr. Parada, as the chairman of the St. John Homeowner’s PAC, has worked as hard as anybody to get him elected. Mr. Parada stated, as chairman of the PAC and in agreement with Mr. Hero, he would like to see sidewalks on Joliet Street.
(General discussion ensued.)
Adrian Bugariu, 11747 West 90th Avenue:
Mr. Bugariu asked Mr. Forbes purpose of (unintelligible). He stated it is very obvious that there is a conflict going on there.
Mr. Forbes asked, “You believe that I left on a Thursday night from a Town Council meeting and went to the Ukraine?”
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes stated he wasn’t sure whether or not Mr. Bugariu kept up on current events, but his e-mail was hacked and some individual sent out an e-mail saying they were him and stating that he was in the Ukraine. Mr. Forbes stated he did not go to the Ukraine and he has never been to the Ukraine. Mr. Forbes stated “It’s called a hack,” and someone stole his information and attempted to solicit money from people in order to supposedly rescue him from some Ukraine jail.
Mr. Forbes stated he has been out of the continental United States twice, once to the Bahamas and once to Hawaii. Mr. Bugariu stated he thought for a moment Mr. Forbes was going over there for the KGB (unintelligible).
Mr. Bugariu stated it is not proper for Ms. Hernandez to chew gum or speak and sometimes she opens her mouth so much you can see her tonsils. Ms. Hernandez stated she didn’t think it is proper for Mr. Bugariu to stand up and attack her. Mr. Bugariu stated he is not attacking her, but it is not proper. Ms. Hernandez replied that it is not proper for Mr. Bugariu to sit and stare at her in a threatening manner while slapping rolled up paper on his leg; she stated this is inappropriate behavior. Mr. Bugariu stated Ms. Hernandez is disturbing.
Mr. Bugariu stated that the relation between Mr. Forbes and the townspeople is not good and get out.
Mr. Forbes called for further public comment. There was no further public comment. Mr. Forbes closed the floor to public comment.
Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adjourn. “I make a motion to adjourn,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- five. Nays --- none. (The meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez