|Mark Barenie, President
|Steve Kil, Town Manager
|Michael Forbes, Vice-President
|Beth Hernandez, Clerk-Treasurer
|Joseph Svetanoff, Town Attorney
Nomination for Mark Barenie for President by Ms. Hejl. Seconded by Ms. Popovic. Hearing no further nominations, Mr. Barenie called for a vote. Nomination carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Nomination for Michael Forbes as Vice-President by Ms. Hejl. Seconded by Ms. Popovic. Hearing no further nominations, Mr. Barenie called for a vote. Nomination carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Motion to approve the January 24, 2013 and January 25, 2018 meeting minutes by Ms. Hejl. Seconded by Mr. Swets. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Mr. Barenie stated that we will discuss the year in review, financially for St. John. Mr. Barenie thanked the team that put the report together and stated that we are very fortunate in St. John to have a solid financial position.
Mr. Barenie highlighted the report:
We have a “AA” rating with Standard & Poor’s, and we have had this rating since 2014.
Our cash balance for 2018 increased by $6 million from January 1 through December 31, roughly a 31% increase, largely due to the Redevelopment Commission Bond for roadway infrastructure projects to be completed in 2019-2020.
The General revenues were roughly $750,000 over budget, and expenses were under budget by $243,205.
The General Fund cash balance went down by approximately $1.1 million, approximately 20%, which was due to investing back into the community with the Community Crossing Grant project on 101st Avenue and Parrish Avenue.
Right now, St. John has the highest median home value in Northwest Indiana. The median home value in 2015 was $260,961 and is much higher in 2019. The median income is also the highest in the area as well.
St. John had 323 residential starts, which generated almost $1 million in revenue.
Property taxes levied were approximately $6.2 million, which was collected almost in its entirety at approximately $6.1 million.
St. John has the second lowest Corporate Tax Rate in Lake County with the Town of Winfield being the only one with a lower rate, and they have a completely volunteer fire department; so they are lower than us because they don’t have some of the expenses that we do for public safety.
Mr. Barenie stated that we have a very rich and vibrant community right now. He advised that we do have some debt for this building, the Public Works building, and other areas with projects in Waterworks, Sewage Works, and Redevelopment areas that make up our bonds.
Mr. Barenie reported that our rate of growth and assessed value has grown 7.1%, where the rest of Lake County has only grown about 3.8%; so we are almost doubling the rate of our assessed value versus the county as a whole. He stated that as our assessed value goes up, that keeps our tax rate down.
Mr. Barenie stated that we have 93% single-family structures with 7% multi-family structures. In terms of units, we are at 85% for single-family units and 15% for multi-family units. Of the zoning in St. John, 2610 acres are R-1, 2988 acres are R-2, and 558 acres are R-3. The balance is a mixture of commercial, industrial, open space, and public zoning.
Mr. Barenie reported that our public safety team, both fire and police, are great; and Safest Cities in Indiana voted St. John the 3rd Safest for 2019, based on the FBI Crime Uniform Crime Reports.
Mr. Barenie asked Mr. Forbes to comment on the roads and bike paths as he has been instrumental in those categories.
Mr. Forbes stated that we have done a significant amount of roadwork and always do our roads within our budget and do what we can every year to build and repair our roads. He further stated that we are still trying to recover from 2008-2009 when the economy went down. At that time, in order to stretch road repairs, we only did patching back then in segments and sections. Now our revenues are up, and we are able to do the roads properly.
Mr. Forbes reported that as far as the bike trails, we have the bike trial layout in the Comprehensive Master Plan; and we also have a bike trail layout in our Park Master Plan. Mr. Forbes explained that they are kind of pie-in-the-sky designs and guidelines for us to take the bike paths.
Mr. Forbes stated that he always tries to get portions of the bike trail through the Plan Commission when developers come in. The Preserve is a perfect example of that and is our longest and newest section. The Gates put in a section from the entrance of The Gates to Renaissance. A person can go from the Renaissance subdivision all the way through The Gates and into Mill Creek on a bike path. We are working at connecting our communities; a lot of the older communities in town don’t even have sidewalks because they were built at a time when nobody was building sidewalks and most people didn’t want them, which is why sections of Patterson have sidewalks and other sections don’t.
Mr. Forbes stated that his goal and the goal of the Town Council is to connect the town, whether it is by sidewalk or bike trails. In The Preserve through the zoning process, we got the bike trail from them that runs the length of White Oak Avenue and along 93rd Avenue to the extent of their property. The Town took that opportunity to connect our existing trail on 102nd, along White Oak, up to 101st, so that section connects with The Preserve. Mr. Forbes reported that as a result of making that connection, the bike trail appears to be used daily.
Mr. Forbes is hoping to present more connections to the Town Council in a month or so.
Ms. Popovic requested clarification that this is part of the 5-year plan. Mr. Forbes responded in that it is part of the Parks Master Plan, which is a 5-year plan. Ms. Popovic asked if it includes options to connect to other outside communities as well. Mr. Forbes responded that there are several options to where our trails could connect to the Eerie-Lackawanna Trail, which will require some work with Schererville; however, he believes that they are amenable to the idea.
Mr. Barenie advised that they will now consider the acceptance of the 2018 Annual Finance Report.
Motion to accept and approve the 2018 Annual Finance Report as submitted by Ms. Hejl. Seconded by Ms. Popovic. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Margaret R. Abernathy, Recording Secretary
St. John Board of Finance
02-28-2019 Board of Finance