|MICHAEL FORBES||GREGORY VOLK||CLERK-TREASURER, BETH HERNANDEZ|
|MARK BARENIE||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||TOWN MANAGER, STEVE KIL|
|STEVE HASTINGS||CHIEF JAMES KVETON|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)
Mr. Forbes asked for any other nominations for President. Hearing none Mr. Forbes asked for those in favor of Mr. Jorgensen as President to please say, “Aye”. There were two votes from the Council Members. Mr. Forbes asked for those in favor of Mr. Forbes for Town Council President to please say, “Aye”. There were three votes. The motion for Mr. Forbes as President was carried by voice vote (3/2). Ayes --- three. Nays --- two.
Mr. Forbes said that he would like to entertain a nomination for Vice President. Mr. Barenie nominated Mr. Steve Hastings. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any other nominations for Vice President. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes asked those in favor of Steve Hastings for Vice President to please say, “Aye”. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street:
Mr. Swets stated that he had two points. First, unfortunately the Chief of Police is not here this evening but he wanted to congratulate him on a good first year; the service that he has done, the talent, and that he appreciates his efforts.
Mr. Swets said that his second point would be concerning the roads and traffic. As the Town continues to get busier and busier, he thinks the Council should come up with firmer plans on how to expand our arteries other than Route 41. Mr. Swets stated that if we continue to approve multiple duplexes for single family and approve cottage homes on 60 ft. lots the density of the Town is going to continue to grow, and it’s going to make traffic that much worse.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive:
Mr. Hero said that he would like to give praise to the new Police Chief. He thinks that if we look back over the last year, he got the railroad crisis stopped on Patterson. He has been the victim of a limited police force and a lot of chaos left over by previous administrations. Mr. Hero thinks he has done an excellent job of pulling it all together. Mr. Hero thinks that the Town should issue him a letter of commendation for a job well done under very adverse circumstances.
Mr. Hero said that his second comment is one he has made before. He still thinks the Town should seriously look at putting wire poles on all of the fire hydrants. We have been lucky this year that we have had no snow. Mr. Hero thinks that we put all of the residents at risk by not putting the wire poles on fire hydrants. He knows it has been said to put a chip on them, and we will go find it, but if there is a fire, nobody has time to go dig out fire hydrants. If you put a wire pole on them, the neighbors can dig it out ahead of time if they choose to. It is their option. Mr. Hero said that he thinks fire protection is one of the most serious things that we have to improve on in this Town. If you go to Schererville, they have it. Mr. Hero said if anybody has been a fireman here before they know that you have to have all of the fire hydrants clear, and you can’t take a blind chance that somebody isn’t going to pile snow on there.
Mr. Hero went on to his third comment. He said that we have heard about all of the duplex developments in Town. He thinks this Town Council has to take a new turn and look at reducing the number of duplexes they keep putting into the Town because they reduce the character of the Town.
Mr. Forbes presented Chief Willman with the token of service appreciation, and pictures of the Chief and the Town Council were taken.
Chief Willman said that as far as his thirty-five years, it has been an honor to be a fire fighter in St. John. He would not want to be any place else but St. John for the sole reason of being a fire fighter. As far as being a Chief for twenty years that comes from having twenty years of super people to work with. That is what makes the difference. Some people are still here from when he came, and some of them interviewed with him just recently, but that is what it is all about super people and to be the Chief for them. Chief Willman thanked the Town and the members of the Fire Department. The Town Council Members and the Clerk- Treasurer thanked Chief Willman.
Hearing no questions, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to accept the Uniform Conflict of Interest Disclosure from Michael Muenich. Motion made by Mr. Volk. The Motion was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
r. Kil said that there is a formal recommendation letter from the Chief in the meeting packet. Chief Willman said that it has all of the specs and the warranty work. It was the least expensive of the two, but that is not really why he chose this one at all. It had to do with the quality of the vehicle, and they have had an excellent working relationship with Fire Services over the years. It is a big deal to have an organization like that right in your own Town. When there is any kind of service to do, any kind of warranty to do, they will send a driver to come take the truck away. It all adds up to down time. Chief Willman said that they are very pleased and very excited about working with Fire Services.
Mr. Forbes asked if there are any questions for the Chief regarding the bid.
Mr. Kil said to Mr. Forbes that there is one thing he would like to add. Mr. Kil said that if the Council is so inclined to award the bid to Fire Services there is also a contract that needs to be signed with Fire Service. Mr. Kil asked that we make this award subject to review of the contract by Dave and approval of it. Mr. Kil said it is a standard agreement, and he will have it to Mr. Austgen tomorrow.
Mr. Forbes asked if he is asking him to add that contingency to awarding of the bid.
Mr. Austgen said that there are documents that are required. We will need a resolution at the next meeting approving and directing the lease purchase financing. There will be a financing transaction Mr. Kil and Ms. Hernandez will be working on. Signatures just need to be authorized if this is acceptable to the Council.
Mr. Kil said that the Council can award the bid, and they can approve the financing with People’s Bank for the amount not to exceed the interest rate. Just know that this will be followed up with a resolution for the financing, and he needs Mr. Austgen to approve the contract before it is signed; but, the bid can be awarded.
Mr. Forbes asked for any other discussion.
Chief Willman added that they do not want to wait too long. They are hoping to have it for the Open House on the 1st of October which is about ten months out. Chief Willman mentioned he would like to see it go as soon as it can because that is something they are going to need to do extensive training with. It is a new piece of equipment for the Department. It will mirror the same responsibilities that they have with the tower, but it is a new piece of equipment.
Mr. Forbes said that hearing no further discussion he will make a motion to award the bid to the lowest, most responsive, and responsible bidder, Fire Services, Inc., in the amount of $799,998.00. Mr. Forbes asked if there is a motion to that effect. Mr. Volk made a motion. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes stated that he would now make a motion to award the financing for the lease purchase to People’s Bank not to exceed an amount of $600,000.00 and an interest rate of 2.46%.
Mr. Kil stated that we might want to note that we did go out for competitive bids for financing and People’s Bank was the lowest of five responses that came in. Mr. Kil said we received bids from five local banks. It was a tremendous response. People’s was the lowest.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions on that request. There were none. Mr. Forbes asked for a motion. Mr. Jorgensen said that he would move to award the financing to People’s Bank. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the appointments. Hearing none he will entertain a motion. “So Moved,” by Mr. Hastings. Motion seconded by Mr. Jorgensen.
The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes said that he appreciates that information. He asked for any questions. Hearing none Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to approve an agreement for 2017 with Haas & Associates. “So Moved,” from Mr. Hastings. Motion seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. There were none. Mr. Forbes said that he would entertain a motion to accept the agreement for 2017 with Austgen Kuiper & Jasaitis, P.C. “So Moved,” by Mr. Hastings. Motion seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes stated that hearing no questions he will entertain a motion to adopt Resolution 2017-01-12. “So Moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Motion Seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Kil asked if the Council would entertain adding $127.44 to the debt write off for garbage that was un-collectible last year. Mr. Forbes asked for clarification. Mr. Kil said that it is for garbage that was un-collectible due to the passing of resident that owed to garbage.
Mr. Forbes asked if everybody understood that. Mr. Forbes stated that he would now entertain a motion regarding the amended Resolution 2017-01-12A. Mr. Forbes asked if the garbage-debt should be separate. Mr. Austgen recommended that we include the garbage when we amend it. Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion to that effect. “So Moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Motion seconded by Mr. Volk. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0).
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion to accept the grant in the amount of $154,610.00. “So Moved,” from Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on this. There were none. Mr. Forbes asked if there was a second to that motion. The motion was made by Mr. Barenie. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Barenie said that the other item that he wanted to follow up on with Mr. Swets. He mentioned this in a couple meetings, maybe in the mid-fall. Mr. Barenie thinks that one of the goals as a Council and the Town this year is to set parameters and actually written guidance on what is our “three”. Do we count our “three” as the building or do we count the number of units? We need to make that clear on how we are looking at it, and if there is a maximum we want. Mr. Barenie said he knows there have been percentages in the past, but he would like to be official with this, so that we can actually take a look at it and use it rather than there be some confusion about it. He would like to see if we could draft that up and maybe have a study session about it sometime for this year. It has come up for many residents, and he believes every meeting it has come up. Mr. Barenie would like to see this happen, so we don’t have discussions. Everyone is clear on it, and so that we are very transparent whether we are in the range or out.
Mr. Jorgensen asked, that as far as units, is there is a standard in the industry, or if we could find that out because the first thing we have to do is agree on the numbers. If we don’t agree on the numbers than we are never going to have a meaningful conversation.
Mr. Forbes said that as part of this discussion we are going to have to figure out where we can go with this without stepping on any kind of guidelines that would affect the Fair-Housing Act or HUD. He thinks that we are tap-dancing on a fine line here, and he would like us to be very, very careful about that.
Mr. Jorgensen said that is understood, and that would seem to be Phase II. Phase I, we have got to understand how we are going to differentiate for the purposes of the numbers. So, do we count the structure or do we count the units within the structure?
There has got to be some kind of guideline out there. Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Austgen. Mr. Austgen said, “There is”. Mr. Jorgensen said that whatever that guideline is, let’s get it for our next meeting; so, we can announce it publicly. Whatever it is that we discuss subsequently with regard to a study, we can discuss, but let’s agree on what we are looking at for the numbers.
Mr. Barenie said that he thinks it has to be looked at a little bigger. What he stated, and he thinks some of them echoed, is that it is a good idea to find out.
Mr. Hastings and Mr. Volk had no comment.
Mr. Jorgensen said that he did have a motion to present, to authorize Dennis Cobb & Associates to proceed with the application for the matching grant for our roads; specifically Parrish Avenue/101st Avenue so he could proceed as soon as the application timeline opens up. Mr. Forbes stated that we have a motion. He asked if everybody understood the motion. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes moved on to a request received by the Lake County Bus System. This is the elderly bus that comes into St. John. The request is of the Town to donate an additional $4,332.00. Mr. Forbes said that he says additional, because part of the money that we get from the CDBG money goes to them also.
Mr. Kil said that what they did is they absorbed a portion of the community’s grant award and automatically sent that to the Southlake County Community Service, so now they are a recipient of that. So, they are basically asking us for $3.00/ride for everybody that rides the bus. This is to offset the cost of fuel, maintenance, and the like. Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion on this. Motion was made by Mr. Hastings. Motion was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes said that next he wanted to follow-up on the comments from Mr. Hero regarding the fire hydrants. He believes they have had this discussion several times. Is it better to leave a fire hydrant covered with snow in adverse weather to prevent it from freezing?
Chief Willman responded that if it is encased in snow, it acts as an insulator, and they are not as apt to freeze, but that is kind of a long shot. Chief Willman said that he has really never pursued that or made use of that because even if you put a flag on it the first thing a neighbor will do is go out an uncover it. So, putting a flag on it doesn’t really have anything to with whether it is covered or uncovered. The idea is that you have to find them. Chief Willman explained that we do have, with our 911 Dispatch Center and phones, when they get a call, they do get access to the position of hydrants no matter where they are. Chief Willman doesn’t always buy the fact that the snow around a hydrant insulates it better because they have seen some frozen ones that had snow on them. Chief Willman said that he doesn’t know if he said the wrong thing, but he is being as honest as he can be. He doesn’t think that is a good excuse not to dig them out. Mr. Forbes said that he always digs his out, and he was told that sometimes it is better to leave it covered. So, he went to the horse on this. Chief Willman said he just wouldn’t use that as a rule of thumb. Mr. Forbes said he is asking because this is something that comes up when people talk about the hydrants. Some people say leave them covered and some people say don’t.
Mr. Kil said that, if he could, he would like to offer a suggestion here. Maybe putting the whips on the hydrants is not without merit, and that’s why the Town does have quite a few whips on hydrants now. Perhaps over the course of the next several months, or when the Chief has a moment when he is driving around Town, maybe if he could identify some problem locations where the hydrants consistently get buried. The whip is for identification where hydrants are at. The hope is that it sticks above the snow pile.
That is the point of it. Mr. Kil said that he will caution that we have had complaints in the past regarding whips on fire hydrants on the corners where kids stand and wait for the bus. One kid grabs the whip and whips the other kid. Then the moms call us. There is not much you can do about it, but kids will take the whips and whip each other.
Mr. Kil said that there definitely merit it to them and we do have them around Town. We are up to about seventeen-hundred hydrants right now, maybe even more. So, we are talking a lot of money here just to do this. But, Mr. Kil stated that if there are locations that the Chief identifies that usually always get buried, or absolutely need identification, we can definitely identify those, and go out and take care of that.
Mr. Forbes said that they have an app on their phones because the hydrants are GPS-located. Chief Willman confirmed that they are GPS-located. They even went out in Prairie Trails, which is not in our Town, but St. John Fire Department protects unincorporated St. John Township. So, they went out and marked them and located them. They are all across a big screen out there, but a big screen is not like carrying it along with you. If you know where they are, and you find one on a corner you can work your way down. They put new caps on there, and so last night they had a structure fire, or a kitchen fire and the one police officer went right out there with his little flashlight, and he flashed so right when the engine pulled up they knew where they were. So, there are ways of going about it.
Chief Willman said that it is a valid concern. He has been out to fires i.e. they had $350,000.00 damage to a house one night where the hydrant was frozen. They had to go back several feet, lay hose, and all of that kind of stuff. So, it is not like something that doesn’t happen, but he thinks that there are other ways of looking at it rather than just charging out and putting them out. They get bent, they get broken, and another thing when you have them sticking up and you go to open the hydrant you have to bend it down. You can’t use a hydrant wrench to spin it open if the flag is up. This is something someone might call petty, but it is the real thing when you are out there and you go to swing it but you have to bend it over or take it off, etc. Chief Willman said it is a good thing to get some attention one way or another. We can definitely improve on it, but he doesn’t know if that includes doing every hydrant in Town.
Mr. Forbes said that the firemen that he has talked to about this are confident in the locations of the fire hydrants. They know they can find them, and they are not worried. Fire hydrant location is not a concern for them. Mr. Forbes said that a fire hydrant doesn’t move. Mr. Kil added that the whips are a comfort thing. It is a thing of the past. That was huge before there was GPS. Before there was everything. Mr. Kil said that he can see those at a few key locations. It may make some sense. The Chief can determine what those are, and the Town can get that done certainly, internally. If the Council approves. Chief Willman explained that there are some places in Lake Hills, where the plowing companies constantly bury them, so he always goes right out there to dig those out. So, there are some problem spots.
Mr. Jorgensen said that on an ad hoc basis that sounds about right. If there are any citizens who know one of these locations that would definitely benefit, and here are probably a handful…maybe that is what Mr. Hero had in mind. If that is the case, Mr. Jorgensen would make that recommendation directly to Mr. Kil. Mr. Kil said absolutely.
Mr. Kil noted that the Sewer project has also been started on Parrish Ave. Also, the Lift Station project has begun. So, we are moving on all of these projects and hopefully we will have them done in plenty of time.
Chief Willman gave the following report for the Fire Department:
During the month of December, 2016, the St. John Fire Department responded to a record total of 167 requests for assistance. There were 125 in our incorporated limits. There were 28 calls in District 2, un-incorporated limits, and there were 14 calls in District 3, which is all of the destinations including Mutual Aid. Mutual Aid went to Schererville for residential medical emergencies times 4, and an engine and man power for a change of quarters and detail times one. Dyer Fire & EMS, same thing; had an engine and man power scene for structure fire and a change of quarters, detail in Crown Point. Also, an engine/man power working structure fire and change of quarters. Change of quarters is when they go into their station when they are committed and everything, and then they answer calls for them. Finally, Lake Hills Fire & EMS with a medical emergency times two. There were also a request for assistance that were canceled before they arrived.
The Monday night activities for the Fire Department in December were a business meeting for the volunteer division; including the annual election of officers who will serve the Board of Direction for the Corporation in 2017. Also, a fire training which included an on-site visit along with a presentation by the staff at Trans-Canada ANR pipeline facility on White Oak here in St. John. The last two Mondays of 2016 were spent answering emergency responses and spending some extra time with their families when possible.
Chief Willman also gave a quick breakdown of the year. The Fire Department had 1,464 calls for the year. That is 100 more than they have had in any month, since he has been on record. A breakdown, which is a question that always comes up, their percentage of EMS is starting to level off. At one point it was 78 or 79%. This year we are at 68% of total calls that were Rescue & EMS. A breakdown by District: 73% of everything the Fire Department did was in the Corporate-limits of our Town. 17% was in the un-incorporated area. 10% of responses went to Mutual Aid. Chief Willman said that it was a big month.
Mr. Forbes called on Deputy Chief Demeter. Deputy Chief Demeter said that the Police Department is still working on their year-end report, and it will be presented next month. Deputy Chief Demeter mentioned that he is hoping for a safe and productive year.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. “I’ll make that motion to pay the bills,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||CLERK-TREASURER, BETH HERNANDEZ|
|STEVE HASTINGS||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||TOWN MANAGER, STEVE KIL|
|MARK BARENIE||CHIEF JAMES KVETON|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)
Mr. Forbes asked that the Town Council at this moment reflect briefly that this week marks the anniversary of the shooting of Marshall Larimer and State Trooper Streu. They were killed in 1971 at Kolling Elementary School responding to an armed robbery, car theft, etc. Both of those officers were unfortunately killed, so if we could just take a moment of silence for those individuals.
Mr. Forbes stated the first item was the approval of the meeting minutes from December 15, 2016 and January 12, 2017. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on these meeting minutes. There were no questions. Hearning none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion. “So Moved” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Tom Parada, 9535 Joliet Street:
Mr. Parada stated “Mr. Kil and the rest of you Council members think the current Comprehensive Plan, especially the unsafe and unnecessary round-a-bout, is what St. John really needs. I will say this to all of you, especially you, Mr. Forbes, you have continually and repeatedly made a point of saying time and time again, and I am quoting you, ‘No one’s property will be taken for this project unless they are willing to sell voluntarily.’” As the current plan is drawn, Mr. Parada wants it explained to him how the round-a-bout can come to fruition without, at the very least, taking some of Mr. Parada’s property.
Mr. Parada then said that in January of 2015, his already complicated life was turned upside down when Mr. Kil made it very clear to him that he was going to take Mr. Parada’s property by whatever means necessary. Mr. Parada claimed at that time he had already been working to improve the condition of his home, but Mr. Kil’s actions brought Mr. Parada’s project to a complete hault for seven months and set his physical and emotional state into a downward spiral that he is still trying to recover from and may never. He could not have been clearer about his unwillingness to sell his home. So, he believes Mr. Kil conspired with two unscrupulous real estate agents to make his property to look as though it was virtually worth nothing. Mr. Parada told Mr. Kil that he had said he was going to relook at that and he never did anything about it. Mr. Parada explained there this is a law against their actions and it is called a conspiracy to commit fraud. Mr. Parada said that he believes Mr. Kil has no honor largely because he has put Mr. Parada in a position where each and every day he deals with anxiety attacks, depression, PTSD, critically high blood pressure, and generally poor physical and emotional health for which he is now being treated.
All Mr. Parada has wanted was to live his life out in peace in the house that he has called home for 58 years. He recently had a very loyal friend move here from Atlanta for the sole purpose of helping Mr. Parada improve his home and living conditions. In the past month, Mr. Parada has slowly started to return to a somewhat normal life. Things are beginning to get done in regards to his home. He asked if he is supposed to halt all progress because of this round-a-bout. He said that it is a shame on Mr. Kil and all the rest of the members who have kicked aside the well-being of St. John residents to advance private interests. He asked that this non-sense be put to end now, and that the members to not pass this Comprehensive Plan.
Mr. Forbes told Mr. Parada that he has twenty seconds remaining.
Mr. Parada said that he has been recording these meetings for years and Mr. Forbes has let many other people speak in excess of five minutes. He said that he has not been to a meeting in months because of his health, and he is going to try and make some points.
Mr. Parada said to Mr. Volk that he seems to have no interest in the people that he represents in Three Springs. Mr. Parada said that he did not expect an answer, but he is asking why Mr. Volk does not come forward in defense of these people.
Mr. Forbes told Mr. Parada that his time is up, and that he will make one comment in regards to his statement. Mr. Forbes said that, once again, Mr. Parada is confusing the Concept Plan and the Boyer Project. He told Mr. Parada that his property is part of a discussion in the Boyer Project and not the concept of the Town Center. Mr. Forbes said the discussion about the Town Center is where he told people that we are not looking to take their houses.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive:
Mr. Hero stated that he would like to remonstrate against the Comprehensive Plan and the Boyer development. The way it is shown on the prints, you end up with a turn- around on Joliet by the rail road tracks. That is going to create a safety hazard for school buses and other cars by putting a turn-around there. Also, that comprises the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of St. John.
Mr. Hero stated that he also thinks that we need to put a stoplight at Joliet and not at 96th. He thinks 96th is too close to 97th, so he would like to remonstrate against that because it is going to affect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents.
The other comment Mr. Hero has is in regards to traffic tickets. He can see on the payment schedule that traffic tickets are being paid, and he would like to know why those traffic tickets are being paid for by the Town.
Mr. Hero also wants to know what the salary of the Town Council is. He also wanted to address the agenda item “Resolution to accept the Conflict of Interest Disclosure,” and Mr. Hero would like to know what the conflict of interest is because someone could have multiple conflicts of interest. The way it is listed on the agenda, no one would know which one it is. It needs to be articulated and described very directly. It also needs to be stated finitely so that one conflict of interest statement isn’t covering multiple conflict of interest statements. Mr. Hero asked if the Council could please answer those questions.
Mr. Forbes responded that the Town is not paying traffic tickets or citations. Ms. Hernandez explained that those payments are our portion paid to County. We keep a portion and then we owe County a portion. So, when traffic tickets are listed on the docket, that is displaying the portion owed to County. Mr. Hero asked if those are deferrals. Ms. Hernandez said they are not deferrals.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive:
Mr. Hero said that if the Town is going to do an annexation, he would like to see the Town bring it is as R1. Mr. Forbes and Mr. Kil said that is R1. Mr. Hero said R2 was mentioned, so if it goes through as R1, he wouldn’t want to see a contingency where they start to develop R2.
Mr. Hero asked about road improvements around this area. He asked if we need to add another lane. All of our roads are very small now compared to the amount of traffic we have at hand. Mr. Forbes told him that is a Plan Commission matter. Mr. Hero said that there has not been a print put up so that residents could see what it looks like. So, his comment is that if there are any adjacent roads that need to be widened to let that come in with the annexation and as part of the agreement. Also, if they could check the elevations for water tower usage, so that we don’t have a similar situation where we had to elevate a water tower in a previous development. He would like confirmation that water elevations and water usage is adequate as contingencies before we bring it in.
Mr. Forbes asked for any other Public Comment on the Annexation. There was none.
Mr. Forbes asked if that was a sufficient introduction of the Fiscal Plan. Mr. Austgen told him that, for the record, it was.
Mr. Barenie said that he has one question. He asked if this would be intended to connect to North Point. Mr. Forbes said that there is one small piece of road there. Mr. Kil added that it does connect to North Point. Mr. Forbes said that was done for the event that something like this happened.
Mr. Forbes asked for any other questions. There were none. Mr. Forbes stated that hearing no discussion, he will entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1640 on first reading only. “So Moved,” Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Forbes said that Resolution to adopt the Fiscal Plan and adoption of the annexation ordinance will be on the March 23rd Town Council Agenda.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would like to make a motion to adopt. “So Moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Motion second by Mr. Hastings. Motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Austgen said that he wanted to add to the dialogue of that report. He has been in a subsequent dialogue with the People’s Bank Officer who is responsible for this. It is nearly finished. Mr. Austgen would say about ten days. The Bank Officer is on vacation, so Mr. Austgen won’t talk with him until next week. Mr. Austgen said that adding conditional language would be appropriate for this.
Mr. Kil said that the Council has basically approved the terms already. It is just getting Mr. Austgen comfortable with the language and attaching the amortization schedule from Cender. Mr. Austgen said that the Bank provided only a few comments on the purchase/lease agreement, so they are just closing in on the rest of the documents.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions. There were none. Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adopt Resolution No. 2017-02-23B contingent upon the Town Attorney finalizing the terms and presenting the loan packet upon signatures. Motion was made by Mr. Volk.
Motion was seconded by Mr. Hastings. Motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Kil asked if the Town Council would consider appointing Ms. Hernandez as the voting representative on the Board. Mr. Kil said that Ms. Hernandez is here nearly every day, and it would be easier for her to attend the meetings during the day than it would for the Council members to take off work. This way, we have proper Town representation.
Mr. Forbes entertained a motion or a nomination to make Ms. Hernandez the representative on the Shared Ethics Commission. Mr. Volk made a motion. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays --- none.
Chief Willman said when this is done we will be in really great shape. We will be able to start at Rt. 231 all the way to Munster and have every single intersection pre-empted. It makes it very difficult when you have some intersections but not others. We have had the Opticom System for about ten years, but it is also ten years old now and there is so much more to offer. So, it is a great opportunity.
Mr. Forbes repeated that they will be able to go through every intersection now and not have to worry if that intersection will trip or not. Mr. Kil said that he just wanted the Council to know that by approving this resolution, we are also approving our buy into it as well, and that there is a cost for that.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion to approve Resolution #2017-02-23D. Mr. Barenie made a motion. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Kil said that our community is active in the Safety Village. We attend every single monthly meeting. We were responsible for assisting in getting a truck load of black dirt over to Mr. Jarvis when he requested. Our Fire Department is very active in this. They help teach the classes when they can. Last year we had about 3,900 kids go through. It was incredible. A lot of other schools that are outside our area are starting to participate.
Mr. Forbes explained that the reason there is a cost now is because, in the past, Mr. Jarvis had run the Safety Village basically on donations for years and years. But, like any other well you go to too often, it tends to dry up. Rather than him having to go out for the donations all of the time, this is where the $22,000.00 came in.
Mr. Barenie asked if there are any other Towns, besides Schererville, that participate. Mr. Forbes said that Dyer participates. Mr. Barenie asked if they were back in because they had been out for a while. Mr. Forbes said yes, they are back in.
Mr. Forbes asked for any other questions. Hearing none, he stated that he would like to entertain a motion to authorize the approval of a donation to the Safety Village in the amount of $22,000.00. “So Moved,” from Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions. Hearing none Mr. Forbes stated that he would now entertain a motion to accept the payment in the amount of $14,575.87. “So Moved,” from Mr. Hastings. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Barenie asked if the matching grant is 1:1. Mr. Kil confirmed it was. Mr. Barenie asked what the maximum is. Mr. Kil said that there was a maximum last year of one million dollars. Mr. Barenie asked if that would cover the projects. Mr. Kil said, “No.” We need two million, so we have to put one million in. Mr. Kil said the engineer’s estimate of cost showed that two million dollars should cover that. Mr. Kil noted that these are not curbed streets. These are going to be similar to how we did Joliet Street when we did that last year. Blaine Street was the same way. There are no curbs or storm sewers, so that significantly cuts the costs down. Each road is approximately one mile, so we are budgeting about a million dollars a mile. They are in bad shape.
Mr. Forbes asked for any other questions. Hearing no further questions, Mr. Forbes stated that he would like to entertain a motion granting authorization for Haas & Associates to begin engineering for the amount not to exceed $283,277.00. “So Moved,” from Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions. Mr. Barenie said that he would like to know what kind of goods. Cliff told him that he doesn’t remember all of the details but it was the Spillman Pass Key. He has the details written down. It was a savings of about $700.00. Mr. Barenie clarified it was related to the Spillman system. Mr. Wroe added that he did not make the purchase, but that he was the fiduciary.
Mr. Forbes asked for any other questions. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would like to make a motion regarding the Conflict of Interest Disclosure for Cliff Wroe. Mr. Volk made a motion to authorize the Conflict of Interest. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions.
Mr. Austgen told Mr. Forbes that he has the original trustee’s deed conveying the subject parcel subject to Town Council approval and acceptance. It was dated February 10th prepared for acknowledgement and acceptance provided that is the course of action the Town Council takes tonight.
Mr. Kil asked that after the approval, Ms. Hernandez gets the original.
Mr. Forbes stated that hearing no questions, he would now entertain a motion to accept the land donation from Schilling Development. Mr. Volk made a motion to accept. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Forbes has not heard back from Mr. Jorgensen about the Contractor’s Board.
Mr. Forbes stated that he would like to make a recommendation to appoint Michelle Haluska to the Building Corporation.
Pursuant to a previous discussion, Mr. Forbes made a motion to appoint Mr. Ken Gembala to the Water Board.
As a house keeping item, there are a couple of Board Members who have switched their affiliations in the last Primary Election. Their current designations do not throw the Boards into disarray, but just so that our Boards and Commissions cannot be challenged, Mr. Forbes is asking that the Town Council appoint Carl Miklusak back to the Park Board for his remaining term. He would be a Republican. Frank Bradtke back to the Park Board for the remainder of his term as a Democrat. Charlie Sawyer back to the Police Commission as a Republican for the remainder of his term. Frank Bradtke to the Sanitary Board as a Democrat for the remainder of his term, and Patricia Sims- Smierciak as a Republican to the Sanitary Board for the remainder of her term.
Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to approve the appointments previously stated and switch the affiliations of the previously stated Board members. Mr. Volk made that motion. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. Mr. Barenie asked if we are passing on the Contractor’s Board right now. Mr. Forbes told him that we are going to wait until we hear further from Mr. Jorgensen with his appointee. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Mr. Forbes noted that we will circle back to the Contractor’s Board.
Mr. Kil asked for clarification of the night change. Mr. Forbes told him that it will be the fourth Tuesday of every month following the Sanitary Board meeting.
Mr. Forbes shared that he received a request from Lake Central School Corporation asking that we do our yearly donation for Dollars for Scholars. Mr. Forbes was reminded that we did not make the donation from the Haunted House for Dollars for Scholars Day. He doesn’t remember the exact day, but he remembers that we collected $3,200.00.
What we were going to do with that money was divide it evenly between Lake Central and Hanover.
Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion to donate $1,600.00 to Lake Central School Corporation and $1,600.00 to Hanover School Corporation for the purpose of Dollars for Scholars from the Lake Hills Haunted House Fund. Mr. Volk made a motion. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Ms.Hernandez shared that several people have asked about Invoice Cloud. She signed the contract for Invoice Cloud on January 27, 2017. On February 16, 2017, Donna, who is the Utility Billing Clerk in her office, and Ms. Hernandez had a web-conference with Invoice Cloud where they focused on biller integration questions. Biller integration is the next part of the process. They scheduled a training session for March 8th and set a target go-live date of March 15th, meaning residents will tentatively be able to pay their utility bills online, via phone or text message. So, we are almost there. Residents will also be able to opt in to paperless billing, as well as be able to access their account information online. They can also view their usage history online or by phone. Lastly, residents can set-up auto pay, which was a request from the “snow-birds” for when they are out of Town.
Ms. Hernandez said that she has also set up two informational sessions to help residents with creating accounts, accessing their accounts online, and using the different features. She is hoping Cliff will be able to help her with the technology side of that. Those dates will be shared at a later time. All of these features are optional.
Nothing is mandatory. So, for people who like to come in and pay their water bills, or tuse the drop box or mail those options are still available. Ms. Hernandez said that they are very excited about this for the residents and her office both.
Ms. Hernandez said that she also wanted to acknowledge Mike Schilling. As many know he is a member of the Public Works Department. After thirteen years of service, tomorrow will be his last day. He has decided to take on a new venture. Ms. Hernandez said that Mikey was one of the most dedicated and hard-working people in Town and that he will be missed by many. She said that she would like to tell him that it is not good-bye, but rather ‘see you soon’ as Mike will remain a resident of Town and will remain a part of the Fire Department. Ms. Hernandez said he has been wonderful to the Town, and has always been such a hard-worker, so she wanted to give him a moment of recognition.
Ms. Hernandez said that her next report is about Vince Bossi. The Chamber will be putting on a fundraiser for Vince Bossi. She has put some fliers up on the counter next to the agendas. Ms. Hernandez explained that Vince Bossi is a 15-year-old resident of St. John and he has been struggling with many health issues for over a year now. He is currently hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic, as he has undergone surgeries, countless test procedures, and rehabilitation. Ms. Hernandez asked to please consider joining the Chamber on March 15th as they host a fundraiser to assist in paying for Vince’s medical expenses. They are hosting the event at Andorra Banquet Hall. Tickets are $30 per person. They can be purchased on the Chamber website or at the door. It is definitely for a good cause.
Lastly, Ms. Hernandez wanted to let the Council Members know that she will not be in attendance for the March meeting. It happens to fall over Spring Break, so her family will be going to Florida. Marilyn, Chief Deputy, will attend in Ms. Hernandez’s place. Ms. Hernandez noted that she can certainly be reached by phone or email while she is out of the office if anyone should need anything.
(General Discussion Ensued)
From January 1, 2017 – January 31, 2017 the St. John Police Department logged 15,358 miles and responded to 521 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents resulted in 17 Adult arrests with 26 charges being filed and 0 juvenile arrests with 6 juvenile arrests being filed. They 247 traffic citations along with 24 written warnings.
There were two significant cases in the last month. One being a child abuse incident where the Police Department apprehended the offender and resulted in several felony charges filed.
There was also a very minor incident the other day. They investigated a broken window, and there were a couple of gentleman walking down the road by the tracks and that resulted in the confiscation of a duffle bag with a significant amount of counterfeit money. That is the second incident of counterfeit money in the last year.
Chief Kveton noted that the Police Department has been a member of the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force for a very long time prior to his arrival. We recently went through the files and realized we are one of the departments in Northwest Indiana that hasn’t updated any of their agreements. So, they are asking the $200 annual fee be added on to this agreement. Chief Kveton said that he would pass the agreement to the dais and if it could be considered at the next meeting he would appreciate it.
(General Discussion Ensued)
Chief Willman gave the following report:
During the month of January, 2017, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 145 requests for assistance. There were 106 within our incorporated limits of St. John. There were 19 within the unincorporated limits of St. John Township. There were 20 requests for Mutual Aid, which is all of the destinations that we respond to. Mutual Aid did include 6 Crown Point Fire & Rescue for change in quarters and detail for a commercial structure fire and support detail for resident EMS. The Department was in Schererville 9 times. Three times for fire related incidents and 6 times for EMS related incidents. Griffith for emergency EMS assistance and ambulance. Dyer for working residential structure fire. Lowell for and EMS change of quarters and detail, as well as our neighbor Lake Hills for a residential medical emergency. So, everyone had a busy month. It was not just St. John.
Monday night activities during January included a pre-planned visit to the new Providence residential services facility located at 10700 Park Place in The Gates of St. John. There have been residents living in the building since late December. This was another joint training with Lake Hills Fire Department. A facility of this type comes with many new challenges and responsibilities that must be considered, and we are asked to provide safety for the health and safety of its occupants.
The Fire Department also had a presentation regarding the history of the Department. Chief Willman said this is not something we have done very often. It included the first day of the Department back in 1910, the highlights and the accomplishments of nearly 100 years, and acknowledged the commitment that all St. John Fire Department Fire Fighters have shared with their family, friends, and all those residents. All of the members learned that we must take this job seriously in order to remain successful every time we respond. Chief Willman said that he wants all of the members to know that they can take a unique viewing in pride and ownership as it comes as rewards to being a member of the Fire Safety Department.
Finally, the Department had their final training with a presentation known as ‘D.O.S.E’; that is Direct On-Scene Education. This was in regards to infants up to one year in age. This is a code program along with the SIDS simulation. The St. John Fire Department has been an active participant in the fire safety initiative. They want to be able to share some of the benefits of this training when they are out on the job and serving our community every day.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. “So Moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:29 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES||GREGORY VOLK||CLERK-TREASURER, BETH HERNANDEZ|
|MARK BARENIE||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||TOWN MANAGER, STEVE KIL|
|STEVE HASTINGS||CHIEF JAMES KVETON|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
(General Discussion Ensued.)
Gerry Swets, 9490 Joliet St.:
Mr. Swets mentioned that he sees the bid opening for the Community Block Grant money is on the agenda for tonight. Mr. Swets knows the sidewalks on Thielen Street are in poor condition, but they are still useable. He does not understand why the money is being used to replace old sidewalks on Thielen instead of putting in new sidewalks on Joliet Street where they do not have any. Mr. Swets added that Ms. Berg asked for sidewalks one year ago because her neighbors could not walk and the kids could not ride their bikes unless they were on the street.
Mr. Swets further stated Meyers Addition is looking for a rezoning to R3-PUD. He does not have a problem with Mr. Meyers completing his “Duplex City” but does not believe we should allow PUD’s just to allow developers to build on smaller lots. Mr. Swets requested the PUD’s to stop. He understand it falls under the Plan Commission, but they do take orders or instructions from the Town Council.
Mr. Swets suggested that the Council stops allowing entire building developments on smaller lots than our code allows. He added the codes are not guidelines but minimum building requirements. He encourages all Council members who are not on the Plan Commission to come to the next April 5, 2017 meeting to see what is being proposed. Mr. Swets stated Three Springs wants to build beautiful lakefront homes on 70 foot wide lots. The lots are 70 x 140 or 10,920 square feet for single family homes, which is not even close to the 15,000 square feet minimum. He feels this is just ridiculous, but it is not even as bad as the Gates in 10L where they want to build single family cottage homes on 57 x 140 foot lots, which is under 8,000 square feet. He added in 4B of the Gates, they want to build 52 x 130 foot lots, which is only 6,760 square feet. Mr. Swets would like the Town Council to direct the Plan Commission to not approve single family homes on narrow lots. Mr. Swets does not want row houses. He added they might be cute and quaint in Wrigleyville but not in St. John.
Additionally, Mr. Swets acknowledges there is a traffic problem in Town. He has a petition with 445 signatures opposing the stop light on 96th Ave. He does not want Route 41 to turn into “Stoplight City” like they have in Schererville.
Finally, Mr. Swets said, at the last meeting, the Council approved the Thoroughfare Plan. The Town paid for a Traffic Study for some of our roads in September 2015 and spent a lot of money for a Traffic Study for Impact Fees around Town. He feels the plan is outdated. Mr. Swets quoted from page three of the study which states, “If the present rate of growth continues on 93rd to the west of 41, it should be considered for widening to three lanes in about 12 years in the year 2027 and a four lane road about 15 years after that.” Mr. Swets feels the Town Council could have come up with a better plan.
He added we could have asked the developers to install an extra lane by the Preserves. Mr. Swets requested the Town Council to talk to the Plan Commission and ask them to start working for the people who elected them.
Adrian Bugariu, 11747 West 90th Ave.:
Mr. Bugariu stated he asked for a time stamp on some papers and the Chief of Police said the stamp was in the Clerk-Treasurer’s office. Ms. Hrnjak stated she would not put a stamp on his papers. Mr. Bugariu informed Ms. Hrnjak that afterwards, he would take these papers back to Chief Kveton. He said Ms. Hrnjak refused to comply with his request. Mr. Bugariu stated he believes the Town should have a time stamp for items submitted to the Town.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Dr.:
Mr. Hero stated he saw that the Regional Safety Week Award was on the agenda for tonight. He said that, instead, the Town should have created this award for Mary Robert and her efforts to clear the congestion at the railroad tracks on Patterson. He said she has done an outstanding job to fix that problem, and she should get all of the credit.
Mr. Hero further stated the Town has not provided for crossings at the railroad tracks in the sidewalk projects. He said the sidewalks end before the railroad crossing, and it is a safety problem. Mr. Hero feels the Town should have addressed this issue with a separate proposal, especially since it is Rail Safety Week. He feels this is bad management.
Mr. Hero also stated copies of the bills were not provided at the Utility Board meeting as they have had in the past. He feels this opens up a lot of questions and the public does not know what the Board is voting on. Mr. Hero believes the bills need to be added back on the agendas as they have been in the past.
Mr. Hero mentioned the State Police was in attendance and so he would like to commend Detective Mike Bailey for investigating the Town’s Police Department in the past.
Mr. Hero also agrees with Gerald Swet’s comments about the traffic problems and opposes the traffic signal at 96th Street. He believes it will create more congestion. He added the signal between 96th and 97th as part of the Boyer Project will create more hazards, traffic congestion and accidents.
Mr. Hero addressed Chief Kveton’s comments from the Utility Board meeting regarding individuals who come to the meetings to speak. Mr. Hero stated the public can speak about what’s on their mind; it is their free speech right to ask questions and they cannot be suppressed by being told they cannot engage in debate. He added that Council members can choose not to answer the question but it is a public forum and people have a right to ask questions. The public’s speech should not be suppressed.
Mr. Forbes stated he does not believe the comments made by Chief Kveton were intended to quell free speech, but rather to provide a suggestion in order to make the decorum in the room a little more palatable. Mr. Forbes stated that, as usual, he feels Mr. Hero “missed the mark on that one.”
In 2016, Illinois Association of the Chiefs of Police reached out to Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Indiana to create the Midwest Rail Safety Week. Seven hundred police agencies in the five-state region donated over 15,000 man hours to issue over 6,000 railroad related traffic citations and arresting over 400 people for trespassing on railroad property within that one-week span. Six hundred Operation Life Saver presentations were given. Local agencies teamed up with State Operation Life Saver programs to promote awareness at Open Houses, Safety Fairs, and the Officer Trainer Program.
Out of 700 agencies, twenty-five police agencies are being chosen for special recognition. St. John was one of those agencies selected in the State of Indiana. St. John is awarded the Achievement of Excellence Award for exemplary enforcement efforts in support of Midwest Rail Safety Week.
The Midwest Regional Rail Safety Week has been so successful, it is now being used as a model for the National Rail Safety Week which will commence on September 24, 2017. Chief Kveton has spent 20 years devoted to Rail Safety as he sits on the National Lifesaver Advisory Committee, is President of the Illinois Lifesaver Operation Advisory, is an OL Presenter, and a GCCI instructor. It is with appreciation, Special Agent Graf presents to Chief Kveton and the St. John Police Department the Achievement of Excellence Award for outstand support.
Chief Kveton gave thanks and said he is dedicated to this project and will continue working hard.
Mr. Forbes gave thanks read the following: “The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Achievement of Excellence. This certificate is awarded to the St. John Police Department for exemplary performance and commitment to Rail Safety Education and Enforcement during Midwest Rail Safety Week of 2016.”
(General Discussion Ensued.)
Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to take the bids under advisements. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays –none.
Mr. Volk made a motion and Mr. Jorgensen seconded. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays –none.
Ms. Hrnjak addressed Mr. Hero regarding the agendas that were missing the bills. She stated that Clerk-Treasurer Hernandez printed the agendas with the bills but the revised agendas on the dais didn’t have the bills attached. She apologized as there was an error in the copying of the revised agenda.Police Chief Kveton gave the following report:
Between February 1 to February 29, 2017, the members of the St. John Police Department logged 14,039 miles and responded to 406 law incidents. The investigation of these incidents led to 22 adult arrests with 38 charges being filed, and 1 juvenile arrests with 1 juvenile charge being filed.
Chief Kveton would like to commend four officers who responded to the piece of construction equipment, valued at $40,000, stolen from the Town Lift Station Project. A resident noticed the equipment being loaded onto a trailer and called it in to the police. The officers recovered the bob cat and both individuals were taken into custody and housed at the county jail pending charges.
Chief Kveton stated about one year ago, he was part of a meeting in Washington, D.C. with Transparency in Policing for Communities as one of the objectives. He stated over 200 agencies are a part of this program and it is starting to be coordinated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Chief Kveton said they now have several categories listed on their website: Calls for Service, Community Engagement, Officer Involved Shootings, Officer Response to Resistance, Year-End Reports, Crime Mapping through one of the local universities, Arrest Citations, and Traffic Stops.
Chief Kveton requested the Council to prepare a resolution for the next meeting. The Major Task Force is updating records and needs to have a resolution for the Cooperative Effort between the Major Task Force.
(General Discussion Ensued.)
Chief Kveton asked Mr. Austgen to elaborate on the resolution. Mr. Austgen stated this is a standard document from when Chief Frego was here and this would just be an update with no changes of substance.
(General Discussion Ensued.)
Fire Chief Willman gave the following report for the St. John Fire Department:
During the month of February 2017, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 115 requests for assistance. There were 84 within our incorporated limits of St. John. There were 17 within the unincorporated limits of St. John Township. There were 14 in District 3, which is all of the destinations including Mutual Aid. Mutual Aid included four calls to Schererville with an ALS ambulance, Crete Township for a large structure fire requiring an ambulance, Lake Hills with an ALS ambulance four times, Dyer had a structure fire requiring an engine and manpower.
The Monday night training was an EMS in-service for annual CPR recertification. The American Heart Association requires recertification every two years. Nineteen members of the fire department completed the CPR recertification. Other members completed the training last year or at one of the monthly certifications offered to the public. There was also the first in a series of lectures and hands-on skills on Self- Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), including care, usage, and proper cleaning, and fit.. Finally, they held their annual review of Hazardous Materials.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:06 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||CLERK-TREASURER, BETH HERNANDEZ|
|MARK BARENIE||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||TOWN MANAGER, STEVE KIL|
|STEVE HASTINGS||CHIEF JAMES KVETON|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
WHEREAS an estimated 10 million people in the United States and millions of people worldwide have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disease for which there is no known cause or cure; and
WHEREAS it often takes an average of five years to receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and medical professionals frequently are inadequately educated on the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia; and
WHEREAS fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder – becoming an increasingly common diagnosis and taking a toll emotionally, financially and socially on patients, their family, friends, co-workers and community; and
WHEREAS people with fibromyalgia are never completely symptom-free; they are always in pain; this pain impacts every area of their life and others must step up to fill in the voids left when the patients’ efforts are focused on just getting through the day, showing just how much fibromyalgia truly hurts everyone; and
WHEREAS the chronically ill place a larger burden on the health care and insurance industries and businesses that must cover the costly expenses associated with their treatment, medications and sometimes hospitalizations; and
WHEREAS increased awareness and expanded knowledge of the realities of life with fibromyalgia will allow the community at large to better support patients and their family, friends, co-workers and employers who struggle with the challenges of this chronic pain disorder; and
WHEREAS Fibromites Unite, the National Fibromyalgia Association, the Fibromyalgia Network, and other groups around our country have joined together to promote fibromyalgia awareness and support – including improved education, diagnosis, research and treatment,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Michael S. Forbes, do hereby recognize the needs of these chronically ill people and proclaim May 12, 2017 as “Fibromyalgia Awareness Day” in St. John, Indiana, and urge all of our citizens to support the search for a cure and assist those individuals and families who deal with this devastating disorder on a daily basis.
Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to accept the proclamation as he read it. Mr. Volk made a motion. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes ---five. Nays ---none.
Beth Hernandez, 10538 Bridlewood St.
With all due respect, Councilmen, I am respectfully requesting that item E, Resolution No. 2017-04-27A be tabled at this time.T
his resolution provides the councilmen with pension benefits. I think it is important to note, that I believe, this resolution states you do not have to contribute your 3% as every full-time Town employee including me has to do. I also think it’s important to note that, in February, I was requested to complete the necessary survey so that PERF will calculate the cost for the councilmen to gain credit retroactively for all of their prior years of service. As you are aware, the Town of St. John is responsible for 100% of the cost to purchase back all of your previous years of service dating back to your original term of office. So, for Mr. Forbes, the Town would buy back service beginning in the year 2001. For Mr. Volk 2003. Mr. Barenie 2004. Mr. Hastings 2011 & Mr. Jorgensen 2016. I point this out because this could be financially significant.
In February, I made a verbal request that we give PERF time to provide us with the financial figures before this resolution hits an agenda. Obviously, my request was ignored because here we are with a resolution for approval and no financial figures as to the Town’s cost for your possible retroactive participation.
As you should be already aware, PERF will not begin computing the cost to the Town until August and we can then expect to receive their figures or the financial impact on the Town to be available in September.
Since this resolution does not have to be submitted to PERF until November 30th, for a January 1st start date, it only makes sense that the actual financial figures are presented and disclosed to the public prior to making a decision of this magnitude.
What’s the rush? I understand that this is acceptable from a legal standpoint, but I question its transparency and believe a decision to approve it tonight would be hasty, at best, without knowing the impact this will have on the tax payers and the Town itself.
Tina Milcarik, 9149 W 103rd Place
Ms. Milcarik thanked Clerk Hernandez and her office for implementing the online bill pay. She stated she would also like to applaud Clerk Hernandez for following through on one of her campaign promises to bring St. John into the 21st century. Ms. Milcarik added that technology is moving extremely fast and this is very helpful, so she wanted to thank Clerk Hernandez for that.
Ms. Milcarik stated she was also curious about the Resolution that Clerk Hernandez just brought up. She said that some of her questions were answered in Clerk Hernandez’s statement. As a taxpayer, it concerns her greatly since her taxes increased $300 recently. Ms. Milcarik added that everything that is approved and unclear to her as a taxpayer is very frustrating. She added that she wants the Council to be transparent,honest and forthcoming with what they want to do and how they are going to do it. Ms. Milcarik concluded that she hopes they follow Clerk Hernandez’s advice and table the Resolution until they know the impact to taxpayers.
Patty Byars, 9111 Cline Avenue, Crown Point, IN
Ms. Byars stated there is a rumor going around that says that the property on Cline Avenue between 87th Avenue and 89th Avenue, on the west side, is being annexed into St. John. Ms. Byars asked if this land will be for a subdivision, how large is the property being annexed, and if the land would be for single family homes. Mr. Kil stated that the land was annexed, it is about 24 acres in size, and it will be for single family homes.
Ms. Byars then asked if there would be an entrance off of Cline. Mr. Kil confirmed that there would be an entrance off of Cline and will tie into North Point subdivision. Ms. Byars asked if there would be an entrance on either side. Mr. Kil confirmed that there would be an entrance on the east and west side.
Ms. Byars also asked who the builder was. Mr. Kil answered that the developer was Lance Development. He stated they have completed Bramblewood and The Meadows in Schererville, and a lot of other developments. He stated they have been around a while.
Ms. Byars told Mr. Kil that they do not need any more houses over there. Mr. Kil stated they annexed the property into the Town so it is not up to him.
Paul Schultz, 10103 99TH Ave.
Mr. Schultz stated that his questions have been answered.
David Delgado, 9425 Grasselli Avenue
Mr. Delgado stated he is here tonight to speak about Resolution 2017-04-27A and the Council’s intentions regarding PERF, otherwise known as Public Employees Retirement Fund. Mr. Delgado stated that at no time, during the Council members campaigning, or in their campaign brochures, speeches, or any other Town meetings has PERF come up.
Mr. Delgado stated that the Council’s intentions to join PERF could cost the Town tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. He added that none of the Council members have paid into the fund, and the Town would have to pay into the fund to catch up the payments that the Council members have never made and this Town has never made.
Mr. Delgado added that this resolution ensures that future Town Council members must continue to pay into this fund to ensure the future of their retirements. He added that the Council members never asked for this and the voters never agreed to this, and the Council members never told the public about their intentions to do so.
Mr. Delgado added, if he is not mistaken, that three of the members will automatically be vested into this fund. He asked, “What does that mean for us, the voters?” He stated that if we don’t like it, and we decide to vote you out of office in the upcoming elections, it doesn’t really matter for the Council members because their pensions will be secure.
Mr. Delgado stated this is probably the most selfish, self-serving thing yet that has come out of the Town Council. He stated he is not sure how the Council will vote on the matter or if they will table it like the Clerk suggested, but he hopes they do.
Mr. Delgado stated that if they do pass the resolution, he will do everything he can, including going door to door, to campaign against them and get them out of office at the next election cycle.
Gerry Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets stated that he hates to change the subject, but he would first like to speak against the Circle K request which will adversely affect the character and appearance of that corner. Mr. Swets added that he knows the Council has heard all of this before because they have had numerous people speaking about it in the past. Mr. Swets does not feel the petitioner has shown to meet the developmental standards required. He stated he feels it is a traffic safety issue, and if the council votes it down, it will not adversely affect Circle K ownership because they do not actually own the property.
Mr. Swets stated that, last month, he asked the Council to see what going on at the Plan Commission for R3 PUD’s, which have been approved in the past, but do not even fit into the Town ordinances. Mr. Swets stated that at the May 3rd Plan Commission meeting, there is going to be a request from The Gates to build single family homes on lots that are 52 x 130 feet. He added that is 6760 square feet, which is a far cry from the minimum in St. John. Mr. Swets stated that he thinks they should stop PUD’s, and they should get the Plan Commission to stop those altogether. Mr. Swets stated we need to continue or start building on regular sized lots—not smaller than what our codes allow. Mr. Swets stated they should not be used as exceptions for everything but to keep them as the guidelines and the minimum building requirements.
Mr. Swets stated that, last year, he asked the Council where the money was when they failed to file a simple request. Our neighboring communities received one million dollars to repair streets. Mr. Swets stated they are now working on an Impact Fee, which will take six months to implement before we can even start collecting. Mr. Swets stated he is not seeing any results, especially when the last two meetings for that Board have been cancelled. Mr. Swets questioned, “Where is our money?”
Finally, Mr. Swets addressed transparency in Town government. He stated it was one of Mr. Forbes campaign platforms. Mr. Swets even found a link on the Town website to the Indiana Government Transparency Portal, which talked about some of the things in local government. Mr. Swets stated that by not having some of the ordinances and resolutions available for public viewing before decisions are made is not part of good government. He repeated it is not a part of good, transparent government. Mr. Swets knows it is not a requirement, but when you talk about transparency, it needs to be addressed to all of the people who elected you to office.
Overall, Mr. Swets would like to recommend the Council table Resolution 2017-04-27A. He states it is not part of good government. Mr. Swets would also like the Council to not approve the request for Circle K.
Mr. Jorgensen addressed Mr. Swets in regards to the Impact Fee. Mr. Jorgensen stated it is something very near and dear to his heart. Mr. Jorgensen stated it is something he personally started and said it is a very long process, and there are reasons for the cancellations. Mr. Jorgensen stated he would also like it to move along as quickly as possible so they can start collecting the money from the developers for the Town’s infrastructure. Mr. Jorgensen stated they did not implement the wheel tax, and instead, chose this method, which is much more difficult as the Town is only the second Town in Indiana to do so. Mr. Jorgensen added that it does not come without obstacles and a learning curve.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil what the reason was for the cancellations. Mr. Kil responded that it was computer modeling. Mr. Jorgensen stated that computer modeling is required for this “darn statute” in order to implement it. Mr. Jorgensen reiterated that he personally sponsored this bill and that it is not a matter of negligence on their part for not moving along quicker, but it was a matter of a learning curve and following the “damn statute.” He wanted to make sure Mr. Swets was aware of this.
Tom Parada, 9535 Joliet Street
Mr. Parada would first like to thank Mrs. Hernandez for putting a lot more clarity on what is happening with the pension situation. He stated that she appears to be the only one willing to take care of that issue and catch the residents up to speed. Mr. Parada stated that when Mr. Delgado called the Town Manager’s office to speak about the matter, he was told to attend the meeting and all the information would then be available on Friday. Mr. Parada did not feel this was very transparent and would really like to know who was behind the nonchalant attitude to give one of our citizens an answer like that. Mr. Parada says they talk about transparency, but to him, there is no transparency there.
Mr. Parada stated, that like Gerry Swets, he would also like to share his feelings regarding Circle K. First of all, he feels that too much congestion that close to our public safety facility is absolutely absurd. He stated that our EMS, our police and our fire have enough trouble as it is just doing their job. He stated there is a lot of traffic there already. Mr. Parada mentioned the question that immediately comes to his mind is when that intersection is tied up, how much danger does that put our public servants through to try to get through that intersection where it’s terrible already; not to mention the safety issues it causes other people stuck at that intersection.
Mr. Parada also stated that he thinks it is great to have the Public Comment section, but he does not think it is a good idea to make people sign up to do so. He said that a lot of people come here to learn and added that he has learned a lot since he has started coming to these meetings. Mr. Parada stated that you might not have anything to say at the beginning of the meeting, but as these meetings unfold, then you have things you would like to comment on.
Mr. Forbes stated he has 30 seconds remaining.
Mr. Parada stated, “Yes, I understand that; you always make that a clear point even though I might add that I am the one who does the videos, and I take into account how long people speak, and you do allow other people 4 minutes, 5 minutes. No, don’t shake your head. It’s the truth Mr. Forbes.”
Mr. Parada stated that he takes care of the videos and he times them. He stated that Mr. Forbes didn’t seem to give Mr. Barrick a real tight time limit last time. He stated that one of the things he learned from these meetings, at least the last one he was at, was that we have a new “Founding Father.” Mr. Parada asked Mr. Forbes, “How do you feel about that and what have you found?”
Mr. Forbes: “Your time is up, sir.”
Mr. Parada: “What have you found?”
Mr. Forbes: “Your time is up.”
Mr. Forbes asked both the Fire Chief and Police Chief if there was something wrong with the Opticom system at 93rd and 41 that prevents them from getting across the intersection with emergency equipment that Mr. Forbes does not know about. Chief Willman stated it is a work in progress, and they have been having problems off and on. He stated it is working fine now, but it took four or five visits to get it all straightened out.
Mr. Forbes stated that this is the new Opticom system. Chief Willman said no, that we have had this Opticom system forever. Chief Willman stated the new one that they chipped in on for the grant will not be seen for a year and a half or two years. He stated they are at the bottom end of five different towns. Chief Willman stated that the one at 93rd and 41 works, but it was failing along with the one located at 231. Chief Willman said it works appropriately now.
Mary Jo Biscan, 10201 99th Avenue
Ms. Biscan stated she would like to make a very brief statement to reiterate, like she did before at the Zoning Appeal Board as well, her disfavor of the Circle K exception because of all of the traffic and safety issues that have been clearly stated so far.
Mary Therese Robert, 11990 Heron Lake Road
Ms. Robert asked who introduced Resolution 2017-04-27A. She requested the answer to be a matter of public record.
Ms. Robert stated she would also like to say she is in agreement with Mrs. Hernandez, Gerry Swets, and Mr. Delgado. She stated she agrees with them 100 percent.
Ms. Robert stated she is against the Circle K, and said it can be a traffic issue because if the light turns red in order to allow the officers to get out and if the traffic is there, the officer’s vehicle cannot jump over traffic.
Ms. Robert stated she is also here again asking for more police. She read an article the other day in the Hammond Times that Griffith has 33 full time officers and 12 volunteers with a square population of 7.7 miles, compared to us at 14.8, not including what we just annexed. Griffith has less of a population than we do. She stated she does not only want our citizens to be protected but wants to make sure our men in blue go home safe every night.
Ms. Robert also stated that speeding and a failure to stop at stop signs continues to be a big problem in her neighborhood.
Rita Berg, 10351 Joliet Street
Ms. Berg stated she would like to first speak on the Circle K again because she is concerned about the kids, as she always is, and the schools across the street along with the police and our ambulances getting out and, just in general, the traffic there. She stated we are always backed up with traffic and “crap” in that corner. She mentioned that to add more there just doesn’t make any sense to her. She stated they can go someplace else in Town; we would love to have them. Why don’t they pick another spot? We have land around. We can do it. She finished by stating we would love to have their business as it would be another gas station for us.
Ms. Berg stated she is glad the retirement fund has been cleared up. She appreciates that.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive
Mr. Hero stated he would like to remonstrate against ordinance 2017-04-27A where the Council gives themselves a pension. He stated, normally with PERF, what happens is employees contribute a percentage and the Town contributes a percentage. He mentioned that in this ordinance, the Town contributes the Council’s percentage and the Town’s percentage.
Mr. Hero added that when you look at the potential vesting dates, some Council members can cash in immediately if they were to lose office. Mr. Hero stated he thinks this is a treacherous betrayal of the taxpayers of the Town of St. John. He stated as public officials, the Council is supposed to work for the people, not against the people. The taxpayers already pay twenty thousand dollars a year for the Council members to manage the Town for minimal work. He added when the Council was hired on by running, this was not in their agreement; the Town Council knew it wasn’t there. He stated the Council should not be greedy now that they have the power to do this. Mr. Hero added the retroactive clause is just terrible. He said you never give retroactive pay to employees who weren’t entitled to it when they were hired on. Mr. Hero stated that he thinks it is illegal to restrict future boards from rescinding this by putting that in a clause. He also added that it says they are not going to pay taxes on it until they take the distribution.
Mr. Hero stated he thinks this is all very self-serving. He says it is a very self-serving ordinance and asks how the Council can be so bold to betray the people and the taxpayers to go ahead and do this…vest themselves with money they haven’t earned.
Mr. Hero stated we have seen all of the problems the Council has created over the years, and now they are going to give themselves a golden parachute. It is a betrayal of the taxpayers of St. John and means they will all be thrown out of office at the next election. He added that he thinks the Council already knows this because there are so many people coming to meetings, so this is the Council’s golden parachute out of here. Mr. Forbes stated he has 30 seconds remaining. Mr. Hero stated he thinks that is just atrocious.
b. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions or comments regarding the annexation. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance 1642 on first reading only. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays –none.
Mr. Forbes asked the Chief if he had anything to update. Chief Kveton stated, like Mr. Austgen said, it is just an updating or actually a transition.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to accept the resolution. “So Moved,” by Mr. Volk. It was seconded by Mr. Hastings. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays –none.
Mr. Austgen added that is was not only unfavorable, but it was unanimous. There was also a rather extensive public hearing conducted which a lot of the people here tonight had an opportunity to speak. He stated the end of the meeting resulted in a unanimous, unfavorable recommendation with the findings. If the Council is considering the acceptance of the BZA’s unfavorable recommendation, Mr. Austgen recommended they append those meeting minutes, which are now approved, to the findings so the record is plain and clear as to what is proven and what is not. He stated it was a long night in St. John, but it was a thorough night.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion regarding the Circle K special exception. He asked for the motion to include the findings of facts and meeting minutes from that meeting. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to deny the request which is in acceptance of the unfavorable recommendation from the Board of Zoning Appeals. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. Mr. Volk added that this motion includes the finding of facts and meeting minutes.
Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays –none.
The Town then holds the $1,000 until the time of occupancy where a final inspection is completed to make sure the grading is done correctly; there is no drainage problems, and things of that nature. He stated once the inspection is certified, the refund is given. He stated the problem is that people are so excited they have a new house that they forget they have that escrow money sitting there. He stated that in some instances, we are talking over a decade, that people never requested the money back.
Mr. Eberly’s request is that the board passes this ordinance, which will allow him to contact these individuals who have the outstanding escrow fee money, and allow them to get a refund of the money. It will allow the Clerk to refund the money because there is no provision for that right now.
Ms. Hernandez stated she doesn’t think people need to actually request the money, but rather this ordinance will allow the Town to distribute the escrow releases to them. Mr. Kil added this is provided Mr. Eberly makes sure the inspections are certified. Ms. Hernandez mentioned that Mr. Eberly has a whole list prepared and waiting. Mr. Kil stated we really need to clean our books. Ms. Hernandez stated she believes Mr. Eberly sent Mick out to check final grades, etc., and he has been extremely thorough with this. Mr. Kil stated he thinks he has them just about done and there are hundreds of them.
Mr. Kil added that going forward, there is a procedure in place, where the Building and Planning Department will notify people twice and tell them not to forget about their escrow money. He said if they forget to get their escrow money back in 180 days, it will then be forfeited to the general fund of the Town. He said we have a process in place where we are going to constantly notify them, and if they still don’t request it back and come in for a final grade, then they forfeit the money. So, if we do have a problem, there is sufficient funding in place so the Town can go out and make a correction for drainage and the like. Mr. Kil said that is what this does in a nutshell. Mr. Kil asked if Mr. Austgen wanted to add anything.
Mr. Austgen said it is another shot at the depositors to get their funds back, which they rightfully have, and gives us a grace period process for notification and processing. He stated that everything said here is incredibly accurate and this is a sophisticated ordinance.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion to consider this ordinance on the first reading. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays – none.
Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1643. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays – none.
Mr. Forbes asked if the new letter of credit is $30,212.60. Mr. Kil stated, “That is what’s remaining,” and that, when authorizing this, they would authorize a refund to Providence Bank in the amount of $141,089.85, leaving a balance of $30,212.60. Mr. Kil reiterated they did not give us a letter of credit; they actually gave us cash.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion for the letter of credit for Providence Bank. “So Moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. Motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes – five. Nays –none.
Mr. Austgen: “Mr. President, in fact, that is my opinion, and this has been prepared specifically to do that given the research we did that makes this resolution the trigger event for an analysis and the actuarial study, and the information that will permit you to make a decision based upon the funds, the amounts, the dollars, etc. This process is not new, but it is tedious. As I was just telling Christian, this is the format that’s been used elsewhere through the state for this type of act; you are enlarging and you are growing the system or the group that will participate. And, so, there is a process to study, evaluate and get the actuarial numbers and then make a decision. The decision you will see; it’s referenced in the fifth recital on the first page that you will need another resolution once the information is gathered so that you can make a due-diligence assessment.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Yeah, I’m confused, Dave. Back when we were discussing this and discussing whether or not we could get the numbers and all that, my understanding that it would be something completely different. And, again, it’s my understanding that you received this resolution from PERF, what, yesterday?”
Mr. Austgen: “Yes.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “So, this is PERF’s language?”
Mr. Austgen: “Oh, yeah. I didn’t make this up.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Okay, well.”
Mr. Austgen: “I mean, you can’t make this language up. The statue has 250 pages of guidelines and regulations, so.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Yeah.” “What I want to...”
Mrs. Hernandez: “Okay.” “Oh, go ahead.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Do you have something to say?”
Ms. Hernandez: “I do, but go ahead.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Okay, alright, so, what I also don’t understand is in [section] five, it says we have to submit a separate resolution actually joining it.”
Mr. Austgen: “That’s right.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I don’t...it’s confusing to me because although our Clerk Treasurer is not a lawyer, she certainly has different ideas with the meaning of this ordinance.”
Mr. Austgen: “I suspect anyone would.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “And, it’s not what necessarily we discussed; it is PERF language, which I get it, we haven’t had a lot of time with it, but do we need this to obtain the numbers?”
Ms. Hernandez: “No.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Okay, well, let’s listen to the Clerk-Treasurer and see what she’s got to say.”
Ms. Hernandez: “We did this exact same process when we enlarged for Roger Patz. We have to send in, which has already been completed, an actuarial survey form. PERF is already in receipt of this. This, according to PERF, is the triggering mechanism to get those final figures. The resolution is enlarging your position for coverage into PERF. You can pass this resolution; it is legal to pass this resolution, and become a covered position without the figures, but that’s not what we did for Roger Patz. I have talked to PERF numerous times. If you look here, the resolution we passed for Roger Patz, to make his position covered, is the identical resolution that you are attempting to pass today.”
Mr. Austgen: “My research had to do with the specific class of enlarged participants that you are, as elected officials, versus an employee. It may be the same, but I didn’t read it that way, and they didn’t tell me that. Our research just came up saying differently based upon these folks being elected.”
Ms. Hernandez: “And according to PERF today, they said it does not matter if you are elected or if you are an employee or if you are enlarging, or just to simply add an ASA option, you would utilize the exact same resolution across the board. You must use their resolution; you can’t create your own. It has to be this resolution in order to enlarge for any position or add any additional options.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “So, you have to use their language, Dave?”
Mr. Austgen: “Oh, you have to use their language.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “But, we don’t need their language to get the numbers or to figure it out?”
Ms. Hernandez: “What you need, Christian, is this. Ms. Hernandez held up the actuarial survey form. This has been submitted. This is what you need.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “You submit it?”
Ms. Hernandez: “Yes. I am the administrator for PERF. I am the only authorized agent to submit this. So, this has been submitted to PERF. In August, they calculate the figures. In September, we will receive a letter, which is attached to the resolution. Ms. Hernandez held up an example from when the Town enlarged for Roger Patz. For Roger Patz, we received a letter back from PERF telling us the exact figure that the Town has to pay to enlarge for the position.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “So, I’m still confused though because we still have to pass a subsequent resolution or ordinance.”
Ms. Hernandez: “You do not.”
Mr. Joregensen: “Well, but that’s what this says, Beth.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Okay, well, I guess we have to ask Roger Patz if... I know that we are paying 11.2% for him and his checks have 3% coming out every two weeks. He is covered now by PERF.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I certainly don’t doubt that he is, and that’s fantastic. I think probably all elected officials and public people, like yourself included, should be covered in PERF, but I’m not necessarily a fan…
Ms. Hernandez: “I’m not arguing that point.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Right, well that’s good. I appreciate that. I’m certainly not necessarily a fan of sticking it to anybody either, but I don’t understand the language, and I am an attorney. And, I can say it says, ‘The Town Council shall submit a resolution with the following information regarding its participation.’ For Roger, where is that one?”
Ms. Hernandez: “It is the identical resolution that you have in front of you, with PERF’s letter attached to it giving the final figures.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Well, I see a problem here, Dave.” Mr. Austgen: “I do too.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I don’t know if Roger should be receiving anything right now.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Well, I don’t know if either of you are PERF [representatives] either.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “We’re not.”
Ms. Hernandez: “I think PERF makes the decision, not you.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “No, what I’m saying is, Beth, this one, that you just gave me, too, says, ‘The governing body shall submit a resolution with the following information.’”
Ms. Hernandez: “Well, [the resolution is] on PERF’s website and they will only use that resolution. So, I’m sorry if you don’t like the language. You’ll need to take that up with PERF.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.”
Mr. Austgen: “That’s not what he’s saying.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Ladies and gentlemen, and Madam Clerk, what I’m saying is this document that you submitted, that we, of course, agreed with, for Roger says, to be valid, we have to submit a subsequent resolution.”
Ms. Hernandez: “That would be a question directly for PERF because he is covered.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I think that’s a question directly for us too because now I feel, not only do we have a problem, because this isn’t exactly what it is that we wanted to do either. We wanted to explore. We see this from PERF and PERF wants…and I think it’s perfectly valid guys, to be honest with you from a standpoint of just whether or not people should be allowed to join or not, but this is incorrect. This is what we received from PERF, and I think there’s a conflict.
Mr. Austgen: “There appears to be.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “And I think there’s a conflict for both Roger. Mr. Forbes banged the gavel twice. And, I think there’s a conflict for what it is that we want. I did not know about Roger’s either. Well, I mean, I didn’t look at Rogers that well. I mean, why not?”
Unintelligible: “Did you sign it?”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I did sign it. Didn’t I? I did sign it. And, that’s not a problem. I mean, why would we deny Roger his PERF, right? But, what I don’t see is… actually, no, I didn’t sign it. I’m sorry. We didn’t have to. The Town Council doesn’t have to sign these resolutions, which is why I didn’t see it. Okay, I don’t know but we’ve got to find out some way or another because it’s not an ordinance; it’s a resolution.”
Mr. Austgen: “You’re exactly right.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I don’t know what to do with it.”
Mr. Austgen: “unintelligible with PERF is warranted.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Yeah, I’d say both are messed up.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Oh, here. I also received a letter from PERF dated February 10th stating that…well, giving me the information for the survey form. Mark, remember we did that conference call? It was you, Steve and myself. And, at that time, it was requested just to start exploring. This is the information they sent me to trigger exploring the fees-not the resolution.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Okay.”
Mr. Austgen: “That’s not the information we were provided by PERF.”
Mr. Barenie: “Beth, I have not seen those forms either. That you just waved. I haven’t seen those.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Okay.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Yeah, I didn’t know about that either.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Okay, I’ll pass them down but these are my only copy; if you’d like to take a look.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “And, the Town Council did not sign this resolution for Roger.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Well, The Town Council approved it.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “No, the Town Council cannot approve it unless we all sign it.”
Ms. Hernandez: That is not true. I don’t think that’s true.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Dave?”
Ms. Hernandez: “Dave?”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I mean, come on. The last time I checked we do not have a mayor, right? It is a five member council.”
Mr. Austgen: “Yeah, but if you act in a public meeting, it’s on the record, it’s probably a legal action.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Okay, so, this might have been on the record.”
Ms. Hernandez: “It was on the record.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Well, I’m just saying.”
Mr. Barenie: “We should probably check the minutes.”
Ms. Hernandez: “I’ve got the minutes.”
Mr. Kil: “It was like last year some time.”
Mr. Jorgesen: “I mean, I don’t have a problem with the guy getting PERF. I’m just saying this is unusual.” Mr. Forbes banged the gavel two times.
Ms. Hernandez: “The motion carried 5 to 0.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Okay. And the resolution is just signed by one. Okay, well, I’m not necessarily comfortable with the process. Dave?”
Mr. Austgen: “I’m not either, but I can tell you that what you have before you is based upon our dialogue with PERF on several occasions and the record documentation they told us needed to be done.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Alright, well, there’s still a problem.”
Mr. Barenie: “The way we understood it we were going to have another resolution with more details from the actuarial, correct? So, why don’t we just tie them both together and find out why that resolution says we are going to have another resolution for one and then...”
Mr. Jorgensen: “We didn’t do that for Roger.”
Mr. Barenie: “Well, that’s another point. Check them both but then follow up with the appropriate protocol.”
Mr. Austgen: “Please understand that elected officials are a special category also. Roger’s an employee, a civilian employee of your police department. And, once you created the position by salary ordinance, and you certified it as a covered position, he’s an employee. You all, as elected officials, are treated somewhat differently. You are identified, you’re defined differently. So, you know, there’s a bit of difference, which creates a bit of confusion here also although the forms are the same that Beth showed us related to this resolution, but you have some differences in how you qualify.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Did Beth have to do something different to qualify?”
Mr. Austgen: “I don’t know.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Steve, you were on the same phone call that I was on. Didn’t they say the Clerk-Treasurer has always been a covered position?”
Mr. Austgen: “That’s why we don’t know. It’s been a covered position for a while before you, of course, and including your predecessors.”
Ms. Hernandez: “Just like you’re a covered position.”
Mr. Kil: “I don’t remember when the Clerk-Treasurer became a covered position. It was probably back in the ‘70’s. I don’t know.
Mr. Austgen: “You’re probably right.”
Mr. Kil: “I don’t know. I didn’t check to be honest with you.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “We’ll find out, I guess.”
Mr. Austgen: “We will find out.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “We need to see what Beth submitted, too.”
Mr. Forbes: “What are we doing?”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Shelve it.” Mr. Forbes: “Defer?”
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to defer the resolution. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion and it was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes –five. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen: “I wouldn’t clap yet.”
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil if it is just to recapture our costs. Mr. Kil stated that we are just passing on the cost to the new home construction.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to consider the ordinance on the first reading only and schedule a public hearing in May. Mr. Volk made the motion and it was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes –five. Nays –none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Mr. Volk commented that the dollar amount is the same as last year. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the contract. Mr. Volk made the motion and it was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes –five. Nays –none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to accept the grant of easements from both property owners. “So Moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was seconded by Mr. Volk. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes –five. Nays –none.
Ms. Hernandez also stated that her office has received an incredible amount of positive feedback. She stated they have received well over 100 written comments via email, letters, and the like thanking them for the option. She stated she would like to make sure everyone understands, because there were some questions about this, that paying online, through text or over the phone are just options. She stated her office is more than happy to take payments over the counter, via mail, or if via drop box. These are methods that her office still accepts and are happy to take.
Ms. Hernandez stated for those of you who know Connie Grudzien, who works in her office, she is officially retiring. She stated tomorrow is Connie’s last day. Connie has worked in the water billing department for over 11 years and has been very instrumental in the transition between administration of Sherry Sury’s office and Ms. Hernandez’s office. She stated Connie and Wayne Pondinas are really the glue that holds the water department together. She stated Connie has trained Donna on all of the ins and outs of this position, but Connie is definitely going to be missed by many staff members and residents here in the community.
Ms. Hernandez stated,
“Lastly, I just wanted to take a minute to address some opening remarks that were made at the March 23, 2017 meeting. As most of you are aware, I was unable to attend. These remarks related to the public comment section of the meetings. The public was asked to, ‘understand that it is a public comment section, not a public debate section’. The audience was further instructed that ‘if someone on the dais chooses to answer a question, that’s up to them, but it’s not to be expected or required’. While I definitely understand the importance of decorum, I want to make sure, that I’m clear, that these remarks do not reflect my belief of what a public comment section should be. It’s my belief that public officials are elected by the people and answer to the people. I believe the public should expect an answer, and it’s my duty to provide one. As I have said since taking office, please feel free to reach out to me at a public meeting, stop by my office, send an email, give me a phone call, whatever. You can expect that I will respond.”
Mr. Jorgensen stated he didn’t realize Ms. Hernandez was up for re-election.
He stated the reason he is bringing this here tonight is because this law becomes effective immediately and unless the community takes action by an ordinance before May 1st, then the law becomes fully in effect and you have no authority over those types of uses in your public rights of way.
Mr. Austgen stated he did not have the Council’s permission, but he drafted an ordinance establishing an underground utility district for the Town of St. John, which if adopted tonight, would require all utilities to be placed underground, at least providing that control over the telecommunications industry.
Mr. Austgen stated he would like to read it for the record. He stated he could not get it out earlier since he just learned of it yesterday when it came out of the General Assembly. He stated it is:
Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana
ORDINANCE NO: 1649
An ordinance for the Town Council of the Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana, establishing an underground and buried utility district, and all matters related to.
Whereas, the Town Council of the Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana (hereinafter, the “Town Council”), has been informed and advised that the Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana, (hereinafter, the “Town”), may regulate the use of public ways pursuant to I.C. 36-9-2-7; and
Whereas, pursuant to applicable provisions of I.C. 36-1-2-24, the Town Council has the power and authority to administer public utilities and regulate the Town’s rights-of-way (“ROW”); and
Whereas, the Town Council now finds and concurs that it is in the best interests of the public health, safety, and general welfare of its residents to prohibit the erection of all poles, overhead lines, and associated overhead structures used or useful in supplying electric, communication or similar and associated services within the Town’s ROW; and
Whereas, to further the aforementioned public necessity, the Town Council now hereby establishes an Underground and Buried Utility District (“Area”), and designates the Area to be in effect throughout all ROW within the Municipal Corporate boundaries of the Town.
Now, therefore, be it ordained, by the Town Council of the Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana, as follows”
Section One: The foregoing Recitals are fully incorporated herein by this reference, and are adopted herein.
Section Two: The Town hereby establishes an Underground and Buried Utilities District (“Area”) to be in effect and to apply throughout the Town’s ROW, within the Municipal Corporate boundaries, and is hereinafter defined as follows:
a. In all areas of the Town where no overhead or above ground utilities, utility facilities, overhead lines, or associated overhead structures used or useful in supplying electric, communication or similar and associated services currently exist;
b. In all areas of the Town where planned road projects, redevelopment areas and/or economic development areas provide for and require underground buried utilities and utility facilities; including but not limited to electric, communication or similar and associated services; and
c. All other areas of ROW or proposed ROW throughout the Town, whether or not above ground utilities or utility facilities currently exist.
Section Three: From and after the effective date of this Ordinance, no person, corporation, or utility shall erect or construct within the Town’s ROW, any pole, overhead line, or associated overhead structure used or useful in supplying electric, communication or similar associated services.
Section Four: Unless otherwise expressly authorized by the Town Council, all utilities located within the Town’s ROW shall be placed underground and/or buried.
Section Five: All existing overhead poles, wires, and/or utility transmission lines may remain within the Town’s ROW, but may not be replaced or relocated without prior written authorization of the Town Council.
Section Six: That all existing Ordinances, or parts thereof, in conflict with the provisions of this Ordinance, are hereby deemed null, void, and of no legal effect, and are specifically repealed.
Section Seven: If any section, clause, provision of portion of this Ordinance shall be held to be invalid or unconstitutional by any Court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect any other section, clause, provision or portion of this Ordinance.
Section Eight: That this Ordinance shall take effect, and be in full force and effect, from and after April 30, 2017, by the Town Council of the Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana, in conformance with applicable law.
Mr. Austgen stated he knows the Council does not have a lot of time to think this over, but April 30 is in three days.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions or comments. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to approve Ordinance 1649 on first reading. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion. The motion was seconded by Mr. Volk. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes –five. Nays –none.
Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance 1649. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes –five. Nays –none.
Mr. Forbes said he watches all of the bills and said this particular bill was so low on his radar that he honestly did not think there was any chance this was ever going to pass. He stated, of course, we are all watching road funding, and there are other bills of immediate significance to us. He said this was so low on his radar that he was totally blown away when it got passed.
(General Discussion Ensued.)
Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion to authorize for the sealed bids. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion and it was seconded by Mr. Volk. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—five and Nays –none.
The St. John Police Department issued 223 traffic citations issued with 106 written warnings for a total of 390 traffic citations being written during the month of March 2017.
Recently, there was a significant theft at the GoLo Gas Station at 93rd and Wicker of a significant amount of lottery tickets. Over the last week, they have developed a significant amount of information and leads that are leading us to the offenders and charges are pending in that case.
Lastly, Chief Kveton requested, “The Council conduct a vote this evening to authorize me to hire special legal counsel for a significant event that has been identified that Mr. Austgen can elaborate on.”
Mr. Austgen stated, “There is a need for special counsel for review of some personnel matters and I would recommend that you consider the approval tonight with retaining Attorney Paul Stracci for that purpose. That would be a good motion, if you agree.”
Mr. Forbes stated if there were no questions, he would entertain a motion to that effect. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion for the Chief to retain Special Counsel, Paul Stracci, to investigate. The motion was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—five. Nays –none.
The Monday night activities included our March 6 monthly business meeting, March 13 and 27 was more training on the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, or better known as SCBA. One session provided procedures to follow for air management in a severely compromised environment. The other session provided a review of procedures to follow if an unexpected emergency arises with a firefighter’s own air supply. Finally, March 20th was an EMS in-service including review of pre-hospital treatment for asthma and anaphylactic shock. They also spent an hour on review of some of the St. John ambulance transport procedures and system-wide transport.
Mr. Forbes stated before we go to the payment of the bills, he would like a motion from the Board “authorizing a $500 donation to the Lion’s Club to reimburse them for the candy they bought at the kid’s day for the Lake Hills Haunted House.” He stated he “forgot to do that back in October.”
“So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. The motion was seconded by Mr. Hastings. The motion was passed by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—five. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes apologized for his oversight on that matter.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the bills. “So Moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Mr. Forbes added that this letter will eliminate any further discussion of PERF during their terms and wanted to make sure there were no objections to that. Mr. Barenie, “I’m comfortable with that.” Mr. Jorgensen, “Sure.”
Ms. Hernandez stated she would need to submit the letter with the Town’s case number and additional information to let PERF know they should not conduct the study in August. The letter should come from the administrator.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Ms. Hernandez to confirm that the Town has not received any numbers from PERF yet. Ms. Hernandez confirmed that is correct and stated that PERF will begin looking at the actuarial surveys in August, and those numbers would be provided in September.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes ---five. Nays ---none.
Gerald Swets 9490 Joliet St.
Mr. Swets stated the Town has more traffic than the roads can handle. We keep adding developments with small lots and high density so our problems continue to grow. We need to stop rezoning that allows building on smaller than R1 and R2 lots. We have a request coming to the Planning Commission next month to build single family homes on 52 x 130 foot lots in The Gates 4B. It is time for our leaders to start working for the people of this Town. We need to keep our lots large and our property values up.
Speaking of leading, Mr. Swets stated, he can not believe the Council would consider padding their pockets with a retirement plan and expecting the Town and tax payers to fund it, especially asking the residents to pay for their portion, retroactively to 2001. Mr. Swets stated it sounds like greed to him, and trying to sneak the plan through quickly is bad government. Good leadership would discuss the idea before putting it on the agenda, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Swets thanked Clerk Hernandez for blowing the whistle; the Council got caught. Mr. Swets also thanked Mr. Dave Delgado for the poll, petition, and the Facebook page. He thanked Mr. Tom Parada for the idea to print the signs, and everyone who became active in the Town to stop this silliness.
Mr. Swets stated he asked for a copy of the resolution prior to the April 27th Council meeting, but it was not available. He did not get a copy of it until late in the day on Thursday. He questioned if the Council was making last minute changes or trying to hide it.
Mr. Swets stated that good leadership would not put something on the agenda if everyone is against it. Mr. Swets added that he holds everyone responsible for it and not anyone in particular. At last month’s meeting, no one spoke up against it, and, now, he is sure everyone will try to run away from the issue. Mr. Swets stated the time for that was before all of the time and energy this Town has put into it. Mr. Swets thanked the Council for voting the item down, but stated he feels it is a little bit too late.
Bryan Blazak 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak stated he only had two subjects tonight. Number One, the Town had a road impact committee meeting this morning to discuss serious traffic problems and only Mr. Kil, Mr. Austgen, and the Planning Commissioner showed up. He does not know who in the room is responsible for appointing these committee members, but they obviously do not take their appointments too seriously because no one showed up. Mr. Blazak stated the only people who showed up were the engineers, the Town Manager, and the Planning Commissioner; all were getting paid so much per hour and yet there was no one here to listen to what these people had to say. The engineers stood here and said we are facing some serious problems, and yet the entire committee did not show up.
Mr. Blazak stated whoever appointed those people needs to go back to the drawing board and try again if they do not even show up for scheduled meetings. Mr. Blazak stated that is pathetic.
Secondly, Mr. Blazak wanted to thank the Council for supposedly putting an end to their PERF requests. Mr. Blazak stated everyone seems to be quoted in the paper as saying they had nothing to do with it, but someone originally had this idea. The people around Town tend to know who it is, but the point becomes that you tried to pull a fast one and got caught. The time for playing games in this Town and the lack of transparency are over. The citizens are concerned about the traffic and building in our Town. All this needs to be looked at, and it all needs to be taken care of.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Blazak if he applied to be on the Impact Fee Board. Mr. Blazak replied that he did not apply because there was no notice that there were open applications. Mr. Jorgensen replied that he is now on notice and to, please, apply. Mr. Blazak asked why the Town does not put an announcement out so the people of the Town know they can apply as there are people here who would like to do it.
(General Discussion Ensued.)
Joe Hero 11723 South Oakridge
Mr. Hero stated that Mr. Forbes, as Chairman, makes the agenda. PERF was put on the agenda under Mr. Forbes control, so for him to say that he knows nothing about it amazes Mr. Hero. Mr. Forbes stated he did not say that. Mr. Hero stated he was just reading a newspaper article that implied that.
Mr. Hero wanted to know who authorized the Town Attorney to draft the ordinance for PERF. The attorney gets paid by the hour, so there had to be a meeting to authorize the work. Mr. Hero wanted to know who authorized it. Mr. Jorgensen stated that the ordinance was provided by PERF.
Mr. Hero addressed the Clerk-Treasurer to ask who she thought was responsible for bringing the PERF resolution to the Council. Mr. Hero stated Ms. Hernandez exposed the whole thing, which he is thankful for. Mr. Hero asked again, in Ms. Hernandez’s opinion, which one of these Councilmen is responsible for having this ordinance drafted. Ms. Hernandez stated she is going to defer that to the Councilmen since they are here and can answer themselves.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Austgen if he drafted the ordinance. Mr. Austgen replied that he modeled the ordinance after what was provided from PERF.
Mr. Hero asked the Councilmen who authorized the Town Attorney to draft the ordinance. Mr. Hero asked if everyone was going to remain silent.
Hearing no answer, Mr. Hero asked Mr. Barenie as a Chief Financial Officer of a corporation, if he would offer retroactive pensions to previous employees that have been there forever and pay their contributions. Mr. Barenie replied that he believes the Town has done it already this year for a staff member, but, in general, no.
Mr. Hero stated it is a real embarrassment to this Council, and nobody will admit to who started this ballgame. Mr. Hero asked if anyone would admit to it. He asked Mr. Jorgensen if he started it. Mr. Jorgensen responded, “Did I start what, Mr. Hero?” The audience erupted. Mr. Hero said somebody started this and asked the attorney to draft the resolution. Who told him to do that? It’s simple. There’s nobody bold enough to admit to it. Mr. Forbes stated he has 30 seconds remaining.
Mr. Hero stated the Council was caught padding their pockets and public opinion made them decide not to do it now. The Council took a cowardly retreat. The Council members were cowards when they decided to line their own pockets with this pension, retroactively.
Mr. Hero thanked Ms. Hernandez for revealing this whole scam of public enrichment by public officials to line their own pockets.
Kathy Wilson 9621 E. Oakridge
Ms. Wilson thanked Ms. Hernandez for enlightening everybody and stated she hopes there are no repercussions from it. Mr. Forbes replied that statement is a little unfair. Ms. Wilson stated that the Council was elected to these positions because the residents of St. John entrusted them to serve their needs before their own. She suggested, when resolutions such as the one just voted down, maybe it should be brought up as a referendum at the election, or do some sort of Town survey as has been done in the past to get a feel for what the residents feel.
Ms. Wilson agrees with Mr. Swets about the density and the constant building of new homes and smaller lots. Since she has been coming to these meetings, it seems like there have been a variance every meeting. If the developers do not know what they want from the start, why can’t they stick to their plan? She knows things come up like high wire lines but they were there when the developer started. If it’s in a wide open space, can we put a park there, a fishing pond? We are going to run out of land pretty soon to do all of this building.
Ms. Wilson’s last comment is regarding the PERF discussion. She stated the firefighters are on the Town’s retirement plan, but they should be eligible for the Emergency Service Responders plan. These men do a lot that is not recognized by the people until it affects them directly. There are more benefits set aside for them. They put their lives at risk even by climbing ladders and going into some of the older homes; floor collapse. Her husband was on the LaGrange Fire Department for 15 years, and she knows people who were hurt and killed. Mr. Forbes stated she has 30 seconds remaining. Ms. Wilson stated that is her final comment, but maybe they could take that under consideration and maybe make a proposal for changing their benefits, especially since there are only 10 of them so it should not be a major effort.
Tom Parada 9535 Joliet Street
Mr. Parada stated he would like to touch on a few things. First, he would like to thank Ms. Hernandez because what she did took a lot of courage and he knows everyone would not do that. Next, just like everyone else, he would like to hear whose great idea this was to go after PERF and basically line your own pockets. He stated he is going to change the subject completely because he feels this subject will get beaten to death tonight anyway.
Mr. Parada stated he went to the BZA meeting Monday night and what was on the agenda was about the signs. The Lake Central sign got passed. Mr. Parada stated the tower got tabled, rightfully so, and he can see both sides of that. There was a gentleman who had a great deal of problems with the tower being in his backyard, and he understands that. They were located on the municipal tower here in St. John for 16 years, as he understand it. Mr. Parada stated he heard Mr. Kil asked them to leave. If he is wrong, he is sorry, but that is what was told to him. Mr. Forbes stated he was wrong. Mr. Parada asked Mr. Forbes to correct him then. Mr. Forbes stated, “I just did; you are wrong.” Mr. Parada, “Okay, then who did?” Mr. Forbes stated they were going to relocate their equipment on their own. Mr. Parada questioned that they had no idea the tower was going up; it just popped up over night. Mr. Forbes stated it was never discussed. Mr. Parada stated he is not for the school system, and he is not for the people that are complaining about the tower.
Mr. Parada asked if he was such a stand up [comic]. Why is it Mr. Forbes finds him so amusing every time he comes up? Mr. Parada stated maybe he pursued the wrong career in life because every time he speaks, Mr. Forbes finds him very amusing.
Mr. Parada stated his point is very simple. He does not want to see Lake Central pay for the relocation on this tower. He thinks, to do the right thing, it does need to be relocated, but there are a number of questions he has. He stated he cannot get answers because no one wants to point the finger at the next guy. The point he is trying to make about the tower is very simple. That tower did not go up overnight. Mr. Forbes stated he had 30 seconds remaining. Mr. Parada stated it is pretty hard to imagine that tower going up overnight, and if the contractor who contracted the whole job was supposed to have taken care of this, then he should pay for the movement of the tower, not the school system. The school system has been here with us for over 50 years, and we have lived side-by-side with no problems whatsoever. That’s the point he is trying to make.
Mary Therese Robert 11990 Heron Lake Road
Ms. Robert stated she feels the construction needs to stop until the infrastructure is made to accommodate these trucks. This has been brought up before. How are our ambulances going to get through, how are our fire trucks going to get through, and how are our police cars going to get through when traffic is blocked both ways; they cannot go airborne.
Regarding PERF, Ms. Robert stated that the Council member’s faces showed exactly who was behind it because you cannot control the red.
Ms. Robert stated that Heron Estates does not have an HOA. The opening to that subdivision is pathetic. It is filled with weeds and garbage, and it is overgrown. We are supposed to be a bedroom community. She stated, in the bills this month, she sees the Town paid $1,600 to Red Bud Landscaping for removing plants in Lake Hills, and they do have an HOA.
Mary Jo Biscan 10201 99th
Rita Berg 10351 Joliet Street
Ms. Berg stated she pretty much agrees with what everyone is saying tonight but wanted to add a couple of other things. One thing that got put on hold is the sidewalk that stopped down the street for her, and they have not finished them down Joliet Street. She has seen kids walking and seniors who have had surgeries trying to exercise out there, and it worries her that they are going to get hit. The traffic on her road is getting horrendous. Tonight she came home from Crown Point, and there was a train on the tracks, that was still moving, but the traffic got backed up from the tracks to 101st Street. Nobody could move. She finally told her daughter she should turn around and go a different way home. Ms. Berg got out of her car and walked home because she could not get to her house. This traffic jam on Joliet Street is getting ridiculous. Ms. Berg stated someone needs to look into fixing Joliet Street, maybe widening it, but we have to do something.
Mr. Forbes asked how widening Joliet Street would fix the problem with the train, which caused the traffic to back up. Mr. Forbes stated that widening the road is not a solution. Ms. Berg responded she is not a genius and maybe widening Joliet is not the answer.
She questioned maybe widening 231 is the solution, but reiterated that something needs to be done to divert the traffic. Mr. Forbes stated 231 is a state highway. She asked if we could apply to the state highway then. Mr. Forbes stated there are things that are going to be going on there. There are improvements being done. Ms. Berg asked if he thought those would help the problem with Joliet Street. Mr. Forbes stated he did not know. Ms. Berg stated she is just throwing things out here that are big issues. She has a neighbor down the street who has lived here three years, and he is ready to sell his house and move because his wife has almost gotten hit twice trying to pull into their driveway. Ms. Berg mentioned she is just bringing the issues that are in her neighborhood. She also requested the Council not let her sidewalks die. Mr. Forbes stated they are aware of it and have not forgotten about it.
Keith Kwiatkowski 9475 W 106th Avenue
Mr. Kwiatkowski stated he lives on the street that has the Christian School at the end of the block, and he would like to see some speed limit signs put in. There are no speed limit signs, and people come in the subdivision with no respect, going 40 or 50 miles per hour down his street when people are dropping their kids off at school. Between 7:30 and 8:00 AM, it is like the Indianapolis 500 down that street. The Police Department stated they cannot enforce it because there is not a sign there. The only thing they can enforce are the people rolling the stop signs. Mr. Forbes asked the Chief if he could go out there and see what signage needs to be installed and contact Steve so Public Works can get it accomplished.
Chief Kveton stated he spoke to a lady from that subdivision about two weeks ago because she wanted speed limit signs installed. Mr. Kwiatkowski stated whatever needs to happen so that the police can enforce it. Chief Kveton stated this is something he is working on. Mr. Forbes mentioned that just throwing up a sign doesn’t mean it’s a viable sign. It’s a coordinated effort but a simple effort.
Chief Kveton said this particular lady also asked about crossing guards but since it’s a private school, crossing guards would have to be funded by the school and not by the Town. All residential speed limits are 20 miles per hour, which is the same speed limit for school zones. Chief Kveton mentioned he has been in touch with Mr. Davis and has been working on this.
Mr. Kwiatkowski reiterated the speed limit signs need to go up on 106th and Parrish. This is the main throughway. Chief Kveton said he would take a look at it tomorrow. Mr. Kwiatkowski said the one who started this was a Cedar Lake police officer; he put his squad car there and that’s the only thing that has slowed them down until they realized it was a Cedar Lake vehicle. Mr. Forbes said the Town will address this.
David Delgado 9425 Grasselli Ave
Mr. Delgado wanted to thank the gentlemen for allowing him the opportunity to speak to them again tonight. He stated he hoped everyone had a chance to see their new Facebook page No PERF for Town Council, and if you haven’t, we have hundreds of followers and thousands of viewers on our videos. He brings this up to show how big of an issue and how critical of an issue this is to the people of this Town and even the surrounding communities for that matter. We have done a couple of polls and a petition, which seemingly we do not need right now since you have put this issue to rest.
Mr. Delgado stated he would actually like them to vote “no” on the resolution. He understands Mr. Forbes is doing a letter, but he and the residents are demanding the Council bring this resolution up in the agenda. The Council has made a precedence of bringing things up that are not on the agenda. Since it’s been done before, the residents are asking you do it tonight and actually vote “no” for this resolution and put it to bed. The residents would also like Mr. Forbes to do the letter as well.
Mr. Delgado stated 465 people who have been on the online poll. Ninety percent of those 465 people say the Council should not have a PERF retirement at all, retroactive or otherwise. Mr. Delgado also has 265 signatures on a petition, and all signatures are not in yet as people are still out collecting signatures as we speak. We are going to keep those in case this sneaks its way back on the agenda in the future. Again, the residents would like to ask you to bring up the resolution and vote “no.” Mr. Forbes stated the Council has already covered that base and the second part of his discussion was that this Council would not bring it back up again. Mr. Delgado asked if the resolution just dies. Mr. Forbes replied that the resolution is dead.
Mr. Delgado stated that one question has gotten the most traction with this issue. The residents would like to know who initiated this idea. Someone has to have been behind the idea as Mr. Hero said. Someone has to be behind this. This did not just drop out of the clear blue sky. The residents would like to know who started this. Would anyone like to say whose idea this was? Was it a collaboration of a few different people? Mr. Forbes stated he can tell you that it was not his idea; he was not on board with this idea from the beginning, regardless of what everyone thinks and regardless of what everyone says. Mr. Delgado stated he appreciates what Mr. Forbes said and he feels he is being honest.
Mr. Delgado stated he would like to ask Mr. Forbes, since he is President of the Council and since the newspaper said he was not included in the discussion of this matter, who in the Council was. Mr. Forbes stated he would leave that up to the other members to address if they chose. He added that Mr. Delgado has about 15 more seconds.
Mr. Delgado stated Mr. Barenie admitted to exploring and Mr. Jorgensen admitted to exploring. He asked why they were exploring for themselves before exploring for the firefighters. The firemen are not in the correct PERF fund, correct? They are not in the 77 Fund. Mr. Forbes stated we are done; your time is up.
Mr. Forbes asked if that was all the bids the Town received and if it was properly noticed in the newspaper. Mr. Austgen confirmed that the answer to both questions was yes. Mr. Forbes asked if there was a need to review the bids. Mr. Austgen stated only if the Council wanted to review the one bid for each item. Mr. Forbes stated he was only asking for Mr. Austgen’s legal opinion and if it would be prudent to make a motion to accept the bids. Mr. Austgen stated yes.
Mr. Forbes asked if there was a motion to accept the bids and sell the equipment. Mr. Volk made that motion. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote 5/0. Ayes –five. Nays—none.
Mr. Shallon asked with the price of a 1-inch meter being $500, who pays the cost for installation. Mr. Forbes answered that the developer or contractor pays that cost.
Mr. Austgen stated this was an update to the Town Code based on the Indiana Code and procedures for collections.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he entertained a motion to consider Ordinance 1648 on first reading. “So moved,” by Mr. Hastings. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried 5/0 by voice vote. Ayes—five. Nays – none.
Hearing no objections, Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance 1648. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote 5/0. Ayes –five. Nays –none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions regarding the Letter of Credit. Hearing none, he entertained a motion to accept the Letter of Credit in the amount of $36,536.50. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried 5/0 by voice vote. Ayes –five. Nays –none.
This month, 2,362 residents or 36 percent of our residents are utilizing this option. Ms. Hernandez mentioned that Invoice Cloud, the vendor chosen, gave the Town a target of 20-30 percent utilization within six months, so Ms. Hernandez is shocked that there is 36 percent utilization in a short two months. This is excellent.
The second item Ms. Hernandez wanted to quickly talk about was the State Board of Accounts audit for 2012-2015. She stated it is complete, and she believes it should be on the State Board of Accounts website within two business days. It will include the financial statements examination report, which is already official and online.
She mentioned all Council members already have a copy, but residents can now view the supplemental compliance report on the website in two days. She mentioned the supplemental compliance report is actually easier to read because it goes paragraph by paragraph. Ms. Hernandez stated Ms. Sury’s official response will be available along with the Town’s official response. If interested, it should be linked to the Town’s website by early next week. Mr. Kil confirmed it should be linked by Monday or so.
Mr. Forbes asked if the whole response was on there or if it was edited. Mr. Kil confirmed that the whole response was on there. Ms. Hernandez added there was a disclaimer but the whole response was there.
Mr. Kil stated to watch for INDOT doing an improvement at 97th and US 41 by Strack’s and Target. Anyone who frequents Strack’s or Target will notice when you are coming out of 97th towards Strack’s and Target, going eastbound, there is a duel turn lane there, but when you exit Strack’s, there is no designated left turn arrow. That is causing some problems, and we have received complaints in the past. With a recent meeting with INDOT, we are trying to make improvements everywhere we can. INDOT is going to be restructuring that intersection and eliminating one of the left turn lanes going westbound. What they are going to do is provide a designated left turn arrow out of Strack’s and out of 97th. There will be two designated left turn arrows, which will make it a lot safer. One of the biggest traffic problems we have there is people making a left hand turn and people coming through. Now, everyone will have a designated light to do so. This is a good improvement going on in our community. Mr. Kil reiterated to watch for it because INDOT has it scheduled to be completed.
The St. John Police Department issued 290 traffic citations with 221 written warnings for a total of 519 traffic citations being written during the month of April 2017.
Chief Kveton stated contractors should be very cautious. They have experienced a couple incidents of copper wiring and piping thefts. They had $1,578 in thefts in the last month.
Chief Kveton wanted to share one of his successes. One of his goals for the last year was to establish a Not for Profit Organization for the Police Department. He stated, as of last month, he now has the St. John Police Association made up of St. John Police Officers. Its goal is to assist the community and charitable events.
Chief Kveton mentioned the last couple of months they have been working with the Police Commission to establish an eligibility group for an emergency hire. We ask the Council to hire an individual who has been identified as the best person out of that group and also ask to approve an additional hire.
Mr. Forbes stated, just to be clear, one hire is to replace an officer that has left; this will reinstate our complement, and then one additional officer. Mr. Forbes stated that will now raise our complement to 20 officers. Chief Kveton stated that was correct. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Mr. Jorgensen made the motion to authorize the approval of hiring two officers for the St John Police Department. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried 5/0 by voice vote. Ayes –five. Nays – none.
The Monday night activities included a two-part lecture that included exerts from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Fire Firefighter 1 and 2 Academy curriculum, mandatory basic series, and Fire Fighter 1 and 2 series, which was presented to candidates by the District 1 Training Academy. This was taught, here, at our St. John Public Safety Facility. The skills and hands on activities are addressed at our St. John Training Site on Industrial Drive. The April 17 presentation was entitled Firefighter Behavior/Breathing Smoke. The April 24 presentation was a lecture on Building and Construction. It is nice to have this information that is not only designed to educate new recruits but also to make all of our jobs more effective by providing a safer environment for the work that must be accomplished. The St. John Fire Fighters are very fortunate to have these resources available to us right here in our own Town.
Chief Willman stated he wanted to take a moment to thank all of the people who supported the efforts of Stop and Shop and the St. John VFW for the steak dinner. As far as he is concerned, it was a huge, huge success and it went really well. Chief Willman mentioned he usually doesn’t get to see so many residents at once; he usually only sees one or two at a time. He thanked Ms. Hernandez who had notices in the water bills and wanted to thank everyone in general. It was a great effort with even the firemen down there washing dishes.
Chief Willman stated the VFW presented him with a very generous check for $2,000, and it will go for equipment on the new truck that will probably come within the next six months. Thermo-imaging equipment will be purchased. There are a lot of places the money could go, but that is what they targeted. He wanted to thank everyone very much.
Mr. Forbes stated that it was a very nice event. He encouraged people to attend next time because the steaks were really good. He said Stop and Shop cooks them and you can’t go wrong. It was nice seeing all of the “fire guys” there. They got called out though for a barbeque on fire, but not at the VFW. Chief Willman responded that, during the event, they actually had two ALS ambulance trips, one to St. John and one to Crown Point. They also had one to Munster and a structure fire on Declan. Mr. Forbes added he just found it ironic that the “guys” were called out for a barbeque fire at a barbeque.
Mr. Willman added that the VFW tried something new at the event with shuttle parking set up with the permission of Lake Central at Clark School. He stated it was not really advertised ahead of time, but the VFW was concerned about the parking. He added the cars at Clark Middle School could not have fit at the VFW parking lot. He said if they do it again, they will let people know ahead of time about the shuttle. Mr. Forbes stated that it worked out well since the VFW has a small parking lot.
Hearing none, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to approve the bills. “So Moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|Michael Forbes, President||Christian Jorgensen||Beth Hernandez, Clerk-Treasurer|
|Steve Hastings, Vice-President||Chief Fred Willman||Steve Kil, Town Manager|
|Gregory Volk||Chief James Kveton||David Austgen, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Mr. Forbes declared the presence of a quorum.
Motion to approve by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Mr. Forbes congratulated Officer Sandaker and welcomed him.
Chief Kveton said a few words about Officer Sandaker: Officer Sandaker grew up in St. John and is still a resident. He is a graduate of Ball State University and started out as a police officer for Portage.
Chief Kveton stated that he knows he will do a great job and welcomed him.
Rita Berg (10351 Joliet Street): (Letter as read into the record by Ms. Hernandez) I am giving formal notice to remonstrate against the Boyer project, SJ96, as it will negatively affect my property value as well as my neighbors’ value. This will also make our traffic in this area more of a nightmare. We were not properly notified of the change in paperwork or meeting changes. (Ms. Hernandez stated that Ms. Berg asked her to read the remonstrance at all meetings to be had on this day.)
Joe Hero (11723 South Oakridge Drive): I’d like to remonstrate against the Economic Development Agreement. The amendment is – the agreement is unconstitutional. Also, if you look at the exhibits that are the first two in there, they are not marked on the map, so this is an illusionary contract. You cannot define where it’s at. Also, in where you go and say what the company’s minimum is, you delete the word – there’s no word company in there to say what the max is, so this is an illusionary contract, and it cannot be defined what phase one is and phase two.
I incorporate all of my previous comments against this about traffic, health, safety, welfare that I made at the Economic Development Committee meeting. I’d like those incorporated into the minutes, the same comments, so I’m not redundant here.
The other thing is, on your agenda today, you have the Lake Central School tower issue. You should reject any variance and take the BZA recommendation. Also, Ordinance 1653, you should keep that development R-1. We built this town on the character of R-1. You betray the voters of this town if you adopt the agreement, the Economic Development Agreement. It’s a special interest agreement that benefits just one group, one company, and at the expense of the rest of the town.
TIF districts destroy the tax base for the schools. And I think one thing you should do is, is that money just passes through; the schools don’t see it. The Clerk-Treasurer don’t see it till it’s all over with. For all these reasons, I object to that Economic Development Agreement. I object to the allowing this tower at Lake Central; it’s a hazard to the neighborhood, in my opinion. And also this Ordinance 1653, this should be kept R-1 in order to help the drainage in the area. Thank you.
Steve Winarski (8843 Mallard Lane): I’m here to speak against this, uh, development by Lantz from R-1 to R-2. Uh, I bought my property ten years ago. I’ve been living here; nine years ago I built my house. Um, my main concerns are drainage, increased traffic from Cline Avenue into North Point. Uh, we have a lot of small children over there. Uh, I don’t see no duplex or townhomes, and I’m just tired of seeing our – shrinking our property values down. Why is it the developer wants to get greedy and get more lots in on this development? And I think it your guys’ right to support us, as taxpayers, to keep our property values where they should be.
This town is growing big time; so is Dyer. They’re putting a choke on whatever property’s left in Schererville. My main concern is nobody’s thinking about Lake Central Schools. Do not come to us in three years saying you want another referendum for Lake Central High School. You got The Gates and all this other property going up. If you assess the developers or put something on the people when they get their building permits -- this is a joke. What are we going to do, come three years and say, “Hey, we need another expansion to the high school”? People, you are here to represent us.
Think about this. Okay. Quit worrying about the development, the developers, and their greed. I’m sick of it. Okay. I’m just telling you, all – all of us people here pay taxes. And I think it’s a joke that you guys won’t listen to us. You want to sit here and worry about favoritism for developers. Okay. Enough’s enough. I’m tired of greed of developers and you guys supporting these guys. I mean, I know. I come here to the Plan Commission meeting. You guys have a part-time building inspector. Yeah, what’s he think? Oh, that’s more homes I got to sit here and tag. That’s a joke. You know, you people have full-time jobs; correct? This is a part-time job. Support us. We’re the ones that elect you. If you guys don’t want to support us, we’ll get you out.
Ed Everett (10133 White Oak Avenue): I’d like to comment on the bike path you’re going to put in. Mr. Baker came to my house about two weeks ago, and he told me what he was going to do. And I told him that there’s a swale on the side of my house, in between my house and the other house that’s there. And he said we were going to – he was going to make it level; and I said, well, you’re going to have to dig something out, or you’re going to have to put drainage in there. And he said, well, we’ll make it level so the water runs off of it.
But I watched how they did it over at The Preserve, and they just laid it, uh, the stone over the ground, and then the blacktop over the stone. And it comes up about 4 inches. Now, they did that at 102nd; and those people tell me that every time it rains, they have standing water there. And I made a special effort when I built my house to make the water run down that hill into the drainage ditch; so I want to make sure that you guys do it the right way. And then, now, and it’s also going to create problems for me because when you put this thing in, the lot next door to me, they never do anything with it.
Trees fell over in the back yard, uh, in his, uh, in the neighbor’s lot – excuse me. It was in the – in the empty lot; and it fell over into the neighbor behind me. And he tried to get the – the guy to come out and cut down the tree. And he had to wind up cutting it down. And then there was another one that I had to cut down because it was going to fall on my house. And now the weeds are grown up so high on that hill, and these people come over this hill so fast that one of these days, they’re going to hit us and somebody’s going to get hurt, cause – and now we got a third thing to watch out for: Kids coming down this – this bike path that you guys created. And I don’t want to see anybody get hurt. So something’s going to happen sooner or later.
If something – you guys got to put a sign up there or a stop sign or a clear – a sign that says a cliff ahead, 100-feet drop, something to stop these people coming over that hill so fast. So I’ll – I’ll wait and see if something happens, but I – I see what happens to my neighbors, and I see what goes on around here, and nothing happens. And I’m beginning to see really why these people are so frustrated with you guys, cause you never do nothing.
Now, I’ve tolerated it and watched, and – and I – I – you, I talked to you a year and a half ago about this sidewalk, and you told me to call you back three months after that or – or back in February, and I – and I called you, and your secretary wouldn’t even allow me to, uh, talk to you. And then I went over and cut the weeds in front of the lot next door to me so I could see. And I called the lady here to see, uh, what day you guys picked up the branches, cause I wasn’t in front of my computer; otherwise, I would have done that, and she gave me the third degree because I was cutting the weeds in the lot. So I’ll never cut the weeds down.
(Mr. Forbes informed Mr. Everett that his allotted time was up.)
My time’s up. Okay. Thank you.
(Mr. Forbes advised that only three minutes are allowed.)
Yeah, okay. That sounds about right.
Nina Daniels (8703 Cline Avenue): I’m just here to talk about the rezoning of 8740 Cline Avenue from R-1 to R-2, and I’m really against it. It’s so much traffic already on Cline, and I’m just looking for a truck or something to come up in my bedroom one day. So please consider this, cause it’s really scary to us. Okay. Thank you.
Theresa Birlson (9520 Joliet Street): I agree with these people. I also think that this Lantz’ development should remain R-1 because our town has just way too much traffic, too much pressure on the infrastructure, schools, etc., etc. And I also want to remonstrate and object against the Shops on 96 Economic Development Agreement, and I want my comments that I made before the Redevelopment Commission added into these minutes to save the redundancy. Thank you.
Mirko Zagorac (10965 Thielen Street): I’m not here to discuss the railroads and that thing. I’m here to discuss some safety issues. Number one, yesterday morning, I was going to White Hawk Golf Course. About a block and a half on the other side of the second set of railroads, there was a kid laying on the street. I got a flashback from Vietnam. I jumped out of the car to see what happened. You know what his answer was? Excuse the language, ladies. “Some idiot came around a car doing 100 miles an hour and almost hit me.” I asked him, “Hey, are you okay?” He said, “I’m fine.” I said, “Do you want me to take you home?” He said, “No, just my shoulder hurts.”
I’ve gone to White Hawk approximately three times a week. There hasn’t been one time that I’ve had at least three or four cars come flying by me doing 60-70 miles an hour. I don’t know what we could do, put some ski – speed traps or something there. But we got to do something before we see a fatality there. And then all you guys going to do is say to the parents, “We’re sorry this happened.” Let’s do something about it. Safety, one.
Second one, quiet zone. I proposed putting a quiet zone on Joliet Street between the two railroads. I was instructed that it’s not a local – local, um, problem. So I got – I got ahold of Lindsey at Federal Railroad Administrator in Chicago. It controls all this area. I got a letter here; I’ll pass it out to you guys. It is not their responsibility; it’s the local responsibility to initiate it. Then they send out investigator; and if they think it’s the proper thing to do, they send a railroad to correct the problem, and railroad pays 100 percent for everything. Right here. I wanted to address this in front of you guys.
He also advised me if I can’t get cooperation from you people, I could go to Lake County and/or State of Indiana Safety Department with presentation, and they’ll give me another letter what they think there should be. And I just don’t want to go over anybody’s heads and that. I just want to bring it to you guys’ attention; and biggest attention I want to see is something done about the speeding on Joliet Street.
If I see that again – when I got to White Hawk yesterday morning, you know what I did? Had two shots of cognac and a beer to calm my nerves. It’s funny, Mr. Forbes? I saw at least 500 kids dead in 1968 on the road. You think that’s a joke? Yeah, that’s a time up. To you all you know is how to laugh about it. I wish to hell you were all there with me.
Danny Simanek (9005 Morse Street, Crown Point): I’m adjacent to some property that St. John annexed there and isn’t building there yet. But I’ve been coming to St. John Plan Commission and Town Council meetings, and I see the concerns the people have concerning all the building that is going on in St. John. You have an ordinance that says all land shall be annexed to the town with an R-1 single-family designation, unless the Town Council unanimously assigns the land to a different district at the time of annexation. I’m remonstrating against the Lantz project. I think that the Council should respect the adjacent neighbors and keep it R-1 and have the builder try to conform to adjacent property on all sides of the property.
I feel traffic on Cline – Cline will be affected dramatically, and people who now live on Cline and have children will have increased danger. Lastly, the Comprehensive Plan states on page 11, “One of the Town’s key goals is to maintain the high-quality of life and quiet residential neighborhoods by thoughtfully managing future residential growth and development.” I ask you to consider safety, infrastructure, and the well-being of existing neighbors, and keep the property R-1. Thank you.
Gerald Swets (9490 Joliet Street): (Letter as read into the record by Ms. Hernandez.): Gentlemen, I would like to speak against approving the petition to rezone the Lantz development from R-1 to R-2. Traffic is a common echo we hear about every time there is a development coming in for approval. That and reduced lot sizes with increased density. You have heard before about increased density and all the problems it creates. If expansion continues and creates more traffic gridlock all over town, this town may no longer be a desirable location, which will lower the value and selling prices of our homes.
The longer a home is on the market drives its price down. But there are other issues as well. If you don’t deal with traffic issues to keep our roads safe, it could also affect first responders’ ability to provide the services required quickly, additional required police protection, fire protection, EMS, water, sewer, and additional storm-water runoff that is currently out of control here from North Point.
Another reason to speak against this petition for rezoning to R-2 is there’s no need for it from the property layout. The developers are getting creative with the roads and cul-de-sacs so they can get creative to keep the lots as R-1 zoning. In addition, there is no advantage to the Town of St. John. There is no benefit for the neighboring residents, no great parks or recreational areas, no reason to reduce the lot sizes. Ask yourself, how does this benefit us? What is the advantage? I think only the developer. Finally, it doesn’t fit the profile of the homes around it on Cline Avenue.
I would like to see this board declare a moratorium on all requests and variances that include reducing lot sizes until this Town can build adequate infrastructure and roads to handle what we have, let alone adding to it. I don’t think you should approve any rezoning. Let’s keep all building to R-1 and start to rebuild the reputation St. John has had in the past: large lots, beautiful homes, and help stabilize home values. Vote no to rezone.
Bryan Blazak (9299 Franklin Drive): I’ll just briefly say up front, um, most of you gentlemen have been on this board – short of one individual – most of you have been on the board for several years. Um, I’ll remonstrate against the Lantz development going R-2 and changing it back to R-1 and keeping it that. Now, it – the guys before me took all the fun out of this.
But I attended the impact meeting this morning, and I don’t – I don’t know how much buzz you’ve gotten from that meeting this morning from Mr. Kil; however, the number that smacked me in the face, and probably Mr. Austgen and Mr. Kil as well, was the fact the engineering firm said in order to fix your traffic problems in St. John, minimum, it’s going to cost $80 million, minimum. He said it could climb to as high as $120 million. He’s going to bring numbers in on the 21st of July. Now, what that means is with the statistics that every house built in St. John is going to have an additional $8000 or $12,000 added to the building cost of the house in order to pay this $80 million to $120 million. You are responsible for it.
The last 14 years, you have approved all this major density: cottage homes, duplexes, townhomes. And what has it got us? A bill this morning they’re saying is going to be $80 million plus. 93rd, they want a traffic light. That’s their recommendation, a traffic light at 93rd and White Oak. I’ve been saying this since The Preserve was planned, that the traffic on 93rd is ridiculous. They’re saying there’s going to be 21,000 – over 21,000 cars a day on 93rd in five years.
Now, when are you guys going to start planning infrastructure and knock off this cottage home and duplexes? We’ve had enough.
Tom Parada (9535 Joliet Street): I'm going to repeat earlier what I said as far as my feelings about SJ, uh, 96. I think there's a better way to do it. We have plenty of building going on in this town. We've been remonstrating against this for two years, time and time and time again. A whole movement started over this. Prior to this, we used to have three or four people at the meetings. Sir, sirs, we don't trust you. You don't look out for our better interest. You haven't for quite some time, and what Mr. Blazak just said completely reflects that. And now every time I come up here, my battle cry is the same thing: infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. You're not taking care of it. You're not doing anything about it. The way I see it, and another – another man said it today, and I'm going to quote him almost exactly – you don't look out for us, you look out for private interests. And I think you're going to find that in future elections, all the people sitting behind me are going to prove to you just how tired of this we are. And I've been here a long, long time, and that's no secret. But I've never seen things in this town the way they are now. Good evening.
Nancy Simanek (9005 Morse Street, Crown Point): I live in unincorporated Crown Point on land adjacent to property annexed by St. John. Witnessing many years of rapid annexation and development, I feel compelled to attend Council and Plan Commission meetings to learn what's happening that might affect me in the future and what's affecting me now, also to support St. John residents and try to protect mine and my neighbors' quality of life. I hear the citizens of your town, who elected you, continuously voice their concerns when commercial and residential developers request zoning changes and variances: concerns about traffic congestion, drainage and flooding, inadequate infrastructure, emergency services, schools, increased taxes, loss of property values, and quality of life. But much of the time, requests aren’t met with approval; respectfully, I ask why?
Most upscale communities that you seem to want to emulate actually follow their comprehensive plans to maintain the integrity of their towns, ensuring preservation of natural features, historic charm, property values, and quality of life. Why not St. John? Your Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinances, which I have thoroughly read, are very carefully and thoughtfully written to ensure sensible growth. I urge you to follow your own guidelines to sustain the character of your town for your citizens and for those of us who are surrounding neighbors. Please vote no to R-2 for the Lantz project and other future projects. The developers will surely earn enough profit to live comfortably.
The upcoming Independence holiday reminds us that our ancestors fought for democracy and representative government. A government that Lincoln describes as of the people, by the people, and for the people. Your votes should represent what your constituents want and deserve. Not what the developers ask of you. Thank you for your time.
Patty Byars (9111 Cline Avenue, Crown Point): I don't know what to say after she talked. But I – I received several calls over the last few weeks concerning this development on Cline Avenue. And I want Mr. Lantz, if he's here, to know that we know that he will build – build a quality subdivision. That's not the concern. The concern is that all this land is being taken out. And they put as many homes as they can on it, and then by the time you get your streets in there and all this other stuff, then you have a drainage problem.
I know for myself personally, and Mr. Kil can testify to this, that when – when the subdivision went beside of my house, they could up a five foot swale beside it. The county said that it would never be filled. St. John annexed the property. It changed hands two or three times, and then the lady that built the house besides me, she came to St. John; they gave her permission to fill it in. So now every time it rains – they raised the property, the land, four feet above my house.
And the attorney that represented this lady at court said that probably that rain never goes uphill. Well, he's wrong. It comes right off of their patio right down into my yard. And right where it sits all the time, there's always a pool of water, and that's where my septic field goes. We're not – we don't have city sewer and – and water there, so I'm begging you to please – and I have nothing against the gentleman that's putting it in, I feel sorry for him. But anyway, please don't let them put – you know, they've only got 21 acres, and they're going to fit 37 houses in there. That is way, way too many, 21 would be more appropriate. Thank you.
Dan DeYoung (8720 Cline Avenue, Crown Point): Actually my wife Kathy DeYoung will be with me as well. So, um, I'd like to speak against the – good evening, gentlemen. I'd like to speak against the, uh, the Lantz subdivision revision on zoning from R-1 to R-2. Um, I live on the property that's about 180 feet north of the proposed subdivision.
And, um, a number of concerns: first of all, traffic on Cline Avenue. Um, every morning, all the kids are going to school, afternoon when the kids are going home, traffic is – is really bad there trying to pull out, and it's becoming more and more dangerous to pull out of Cline onto Cline Avenue. Drainage, this – this is probably one of my biggest concerns I have for this, and I passed out some pictures of, basically, what is my backyard. So the first picture here is a picture that was taken just this morning. Uh, you see this is looking down the ditch, and there's a lot of greenery there and all with the – with the woods growing up, but, uh, you see a lot of roots and trees that are down. This is the ditch that's behind my – at the rear of my property; and it continues to erode away with the volume of water that's flowing through the detention pond that is now tied to my property at 8720 Cline.
Uh, I anticipate this property at – that Lantz is proposing for development, I anticipate the drainage will probably tie into the subdivision at North Point. We've also – or you've also recently approved the, um, Olthof expanding the, um, the North Point subdivision. These all drain into my property. Um, the detention pond that serves that area was designed to be a 100-year detention pond. I sent pictures here of – of the flood in August 23rd of 2014. You see the detention pond is totally flooded, very dangerous for the community. There's no restriction around getting in and out of it. Um, you also see in that same picture there that on August 23, 2014, the volume of water flowing out of the culvert onto my property.
The next picture here, September 19, 2008, this is, uh, the first time that the property flooded was within a year of that subdivision or that detention pond being put in. You see again the detention pond is flooded, uh; and this is before all the homes and – were built on there too; so the surface area is much greater now than it was back when this was originally built with all the roof areas and driveways that are now in there. Now we're looking at expanding, potentially, with this addition onto – with Olthof and also the addition of the Lantz subdivision.
Uh, the first picture on the – on the September 19, 2008, Flood No. 1 picture, you see the water going through the yard. This is my backyard. So this is not any longer going to the detention pond, but the swale that they created when they put that subdivision in now keeps the water from flowing there and now flows through my backyard as well as my neighbor's backyard. And then you see all the water pictures afterwards of the water flowing at large volumes eroding away my ditch. Um, I'd also like to speak a little bit about the – the subdivision as Gerry mentioned not to be consistent –
(Mr. Forbes informed Mr. DeYoung that his allotted time was up.)
Mrs. DeYoung asked if she was next. Ms. Hernandez responded in the affirmative. Mrs. DeYoung stated that she would like to continue where Mr. DeYoung had left off.
Mrs. DeYoung asked if Mr. DeYoung could continue in her place. Mr. DeYoung told her to go ahead and speak.
Kathy DeYoung (8720 Cline Avenue, Crown Point): So it's – it's not consistent going to the R-2. Changing these to smaller lots, this is not consistent with the properties around. We all have 10-acre or 5-acre parcels there, um, so this would decrease our value of our homes. All those backyards would be looking across all of our open spaces, um, just very awkward. It just doesn't seem to fit the neighborhood.
Um, you guys, I think, have an ordinance in St. John about how you want to keep your, um, town nice, and big lots and so forth; and this doesn't support that. I’m, a little concerned with, um, the fact that it's benefitting Lantz; it's not really benefiting the property values and the neighbors, as people have said.
Um, we have five children, and they love to play. When North Point went in, I don't think there's a single park in that neighborhood; so, you know. This Lantz thing's going in. There's no park there; so where are these kids going to play? Um, and, um, other comments that – (Mr. DeYoung gave her a cue: quality of the neighborhood.) – just the quality of the neighborhood, if you put that much density in there, it just does not fit. It, uh – and, if you could add the comments please with the letter that Dan and I submitted to the previous Planning Commission meeting on June 7, if you could add that – that letter into the meeting minutes of this, I think some of you, Steve, received a copy.
But sitting on Cline Avenue waiting to make a left in our driveway, watching for cars from behind to hit us, you know, we are waiting there longer and longer to turn into our driveway. With the oncoming traffic, uh, it's hazardous. I'm not too thrilled about sending our teenage, new drivers out onto Cline from there. So appreciate you not approving this zoning change.
Mr. DeYoung: Also, I’d just like to – if you could look at the Olthof subdivision, too, a little bit more of the North Point and see if there's something they can do there to help with our drainage issues that we have in our yard. Our yard’s disappearing, uh, the backyard, because of the erosion.
Mrs. DeYoung: That river he pointed out, that flows across our backyard; and what was once a creek, is now kind of a Y-shaped thing where it's eroding down into it. So you guys are welcome to come over and take a look.
(Letters read into the record by Ms. Hernandez or prior remonstrances that were otherwise referenced during Public Comment are made a part of this record by reference only.)
Mr. Kil stated that this agenda item needs to be deferred until the July 27, 2017 meeting; so a motion to defer would be appreciated.
Motion to defer by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that this is exactly what the town needs, the area is blighted as it is now, and this will vastly improve it.
Motion to adopt SJ 96 – Boyer EDC Agreement by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Ms. Hernandez informed Mr. Forbes that an individual, Kathy Wilson, was missed during Public Comment.
Kathryn Wilson (9621 East Oakridge): Good evening. As you know, every – almost every month I come up here with all the zoning variances. Tonight’s not going to be any different. Um, my question is: what market are you looking for? Earlier one of our people was saying, uh, to put a hold on all the residential. Are we looking residential or development? What market are we looking for? Are we trying to bring in commercial? Um, are we trying to bring in young people, families? They want bigger lots. They don’t want little duplexes and apartments. If you want to bring in empty-nesters and seniors, then you can look at your cottage homes and duplexes. So that’s it on the zoning. I don’t like these constant variances.
My second question is about the sidewalks. Why are they so inconsistent throughout the town? I’ve been walking with my grandkids, and we’re walking on Keilman and on the west side there’s sidewalks by the homes. On the east side, there’s no sidewalks. There’s nothing between Keilman and 41; and, you know, I mean, I’ve seen mothers with their strollers, small kids with their bikes. We don’t want them driving – or riding on the – the street. And if you have someone that has problems with walking, it’s a – a safety thing. You’re going to have people falling, so that’s my point there. I know this has come up before on the town center.
Um, next is, um, we’re – we’re talking about the streets and the infrastructure; and I noticed at West Oak, they put in new curbs and it was resurfaced for a couple of blocks. And also, I’m trying to get my directions straight. Is it west on 93rd by the curve where just this past week, two or three blocks worth there, they had resurfaced. Are there plans for any more areas in St. John that – someone had mentioned earlier that there’s supposed to be a lot of roadwork done.
Okay. I only have one more point. Um, my grandson started Clark Middle School this year. Normally, he takes the bus back and forth; but there are several times that I’ve picked him up from school, whether he was sick or had an appointment after school; and the traffic there is unbelievable. I’m surprised there’s no kind of traffic control. Now, I will say that all the – the parents that are there picking up kids, they’re very courteous. It’s not like it’s a – a madhouse of cutting each other off and that. But I was –
(Mr. Forbes informed Ms. Wilson that her allotted time was up.)
Okay. I am – just wondering if there’s some way we can put a crossing guard there for ten minutes. It usually clears up pretty quickly; or if we have an officer, just someone to control the traffic. Now the kids that live across the street –
(Mr. Forbes thanked her for speaking.)
-- from there. I don’t know how they get there, but that’s my concern. Thank you.
Mr. Forbes asked Chief Kveton if there is a crossing guard at Clark Middle School. Chief Kveton responded in the affirmative.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that this is a good agreement for the Town where the school pays one-third, Lake County pays one-third, and the Town pays one-third; and it will vastly improve the infrastructure there.
Motion to approve Resolution No. 2017-06-29 to be sent to the County Commissioners for approval of consideration by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Barenie. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Mr. Austgen asked Mr. Forbes to direct Mr. Kil to coordinate that transmittal to the County Commissioners. Mr. Forbes gave the directive, and Mr. Kil agreed to the same.
Mr. Al Gandolfi, Lake Central School Corporation Assistant Superintendent, extended Mr. Veracco’s apologies for not being present at the Town Council meeting and stated that he is present on his behalf.
Mr. Gandolfi stated that Mr. Ledyard forwarded requested information to Mr. Kil on or about June 1, 2017. He further stated that they are here seeking a Use Variance and provided additional documentation to the Council: an RF Safety FAQ from the FCC and a letter from Bob Gonsiorowski, Vice President of Miner Electronics, that speaks to the safety and the structure that was put in.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions or comments.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that it is his understanding that the tower is required for communication between the buses, the other schools, and for safety purposes. Mr. Gandolfi confirmed the same and stated that they do communicate with the police and fire through the tower as well, including St. John, Schererville, and Dyer.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Gandolfi who would pay for it if it were not approved and had to be moved to another location. Mr. Gandolfi responded Lake Central School Corporation. Mr. Jorgensen clarified the taxpayers, and Mr. Gandolfi confirmed the same.
Mr. Volk asked who the contractor was in charge of installing the tower. Mr. Gandolfi responded that Miner Electronics was in charge of the project. Mr. Volk asked why they didn’t get a permit or go through the BZA process. Mr. Gandolfi stated that he is not sure of the specifics on that.
Mr. Gandolfi further stated that they had met with Town staff numerous times, which included Minor Electronics, and collaborated with the Town.
Mr. Forbes asked if they met with Town staff about building a cell tower. Mr. Gandolfi responded that they met with the Town staff prior to removing their equipment from the Town’s tower to move it to their location.
Mr. Forbes asked more specifically if they communicated with the Town staff about building a new tower. Mr. Gandolfi stated that he is unsure of the actual communication but believes their construction folks and Miner Electronics spoke with someone in the Town.
Mr. Gandolfi apologized for them not having come before the BZA prior to building the tower.
Mr. Forbes stated his concern isn’t with the safety of the tower, it is the lack of the ability of the neighbors to discuss this. The tower was never even mentioned during all the discussion about improvements being made to Lake Central at the Plan Commission. It was mentioned that the equipment would be removed from our tower and be incorporated into the school.
Mr. Forbes further stated that the easiest assumption to make would be that you are going to install the antennas on top of your building and asked why that is not a possibility. Mr. Gandolfi responded that they did investigate that possibility, and noted that in Mr. Gonsiorowski’s report reflects that the difficulty is that the roof was not structurally sound enough to install the antenna up there; and they would have had to install guide wires to the ground, which would have been much more difficult to secure.
Mr. Forbes asked that having built a new building, they couldn’t build a structure to support the cell antenna. Mr. Gandolfi responded that the new building and the cell tower were not a collaborative project. He further responded that he doesn’t believe they knew that the contract was set to expire with St. John and that the Town was looking for us to get off of that tower.
Mr. Forbes stated that the Town was not looking for Lake Central to get off the tower. It was a suggestion by Lake Central not St. John. Mr. Gandolfi responded that he was not a party to those conversations and that he’s only repeating what he was told in numerous discussions.
Mr. Gandolfi stated that where the tower is now was the safest location from a safety perspective. It is hidden in a corner, hidden from vandals, and in close proximity to all of the electric and power.
Mr. Forbes advised that Lake Central has put us in a very difficult situation, and he constantly hears rhetoric from the school that St. John does not want to cooperate with Lake Central; and nothing could be further from the truth. It is unfortunate that the collaborative effort wasn’t there. The discussion wasn’t there, and we were blindsided by the installation of this tower.
Mr. Gandolfi again apologized on behalf of the Lake Central School Corporation and stated that communication with the St. John Police and Fire Departments is better than it has been in twenty years. He apologized that the communication with the Town Council isn’t going as well.
Mr. Forbes responded that the communication should have been with the Town staff and the Building Department and should be a non-issue in front of the Town Council.
Mr. Barenie stated that his concern is that there wasn’t communication rather than a lack of good communication. He further stated that it is his understanding that it was zero communication. Mr. Forbes and others on the Town Council confirmed the same.
Mr. Volk stated that it was the same issue with the signage that was put up on the building and in the parking lot, not the entrance sign, the information sign that was located inward and on the building. At the time of approval for the school, it was made clear that when signage was decided on, it would come back in front of the BZA and Plan Commission for approval, which never happened.
Mr. Gandolfi stated that those two issues were part of the construction project.
Mr. Barenie asked if the communication will improve, as it has with the St. John Police Department, after this instance. Mr. Gandolfi responded that he believes it needs to. Mr. Gandolfi added that he believes that Dr. Veracco hopes that communication improves and that he will keep a closer handle on the director of facilities and any contractors that they work with moving forward.
Mr. Forbes stated that the position we are in is frustrating; however, if we make Lake Central move the tower, we’re spiting ourselves as residents because the cost of relocating the tower will be on all of us. Mr. Forbes further stated that this just puts us in a really bad position.
Mr. Gandolfi apologized to the Council for having been put in that position.
Mr. Forbes stated that the apology needs to be extended to all the residents that are affected by this tower. There were several residents that spoke at the BZA against this, and they should have had the opportunity to be heard beforehand.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any further comments. Hearing none, he entertained a motion regarding the recommendation from the BZA for the Lake Central School Corporation tower.
Motion to grant the variance by Mr. Jorgensen.
Mr. Forbes requested that Mr. Jorgensen amend his motion to include “motion to reject the BZA’s recommendation.”
Motion to absolutely reject the recommendation of the BZA, as being pedantic, and allow the use variance by Mr. Jorgensen.
Mr. Forbes requested that Mr. Jorgensen amend the verbiage as the BZA did what it was supposed to be done. Discussion ensued.
Mr. Forbes advised there is a motion on the floor and asked if there is a second.
Seconded by Mr. Barenie.
Mr. Forbes confirmed with Mr. Jorgensen that a yes vote will allow the tower to stay and a no vote would not allow the tower to stay in the current location. Mr. Jorgensen confirmed the same.
Mr. Austgen asked if the motion is a conjunctive – and we really need to be careful here in terms of the phrasing – to reject the unfavorable recommendation of the BZA and grant a variance of use as applied for.
Mr. Jorgensen asked why we even have to comment on what the BZA said. Mr. Austgen responded that the Town Council is making a record of the proceedings here and connecting the links.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that he understands and asked if making a motion to grant the variance of use doesn’t automatically reject their recommendation. Mr. Austgen stated that it could be construed that way; however, it could be construed otherwise. You have remonstrators and that’s the reason for the clarity. Mr. Jorgensen responded that he can rephrase the motion if that is what’s required.
Motion to reject the recommendation of the Board of Zoning Appeals and grant Lake Central School Corporation’s Variance of Use for the communication tower by Mr. Jorgensen.
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Barenie if he was amenable to seconding the revised motion. Mr. Barenie agreed and seconded the revised motion.
Motion carries 4 ayes to 1 nay by Mr. Volk.
Mr. Forbes stated that he only agreed to pass this due to the negative impact it could have on the taxpayers.
Mr. Forbes advised that this increases the notification in the newspapers by the developer for any actions in front of the Plan Commission. He further advised that there is a change in the description of the Zoning Administrator.
Mr. Forbes asked for any questions or comments from the board. Hearing none, he entertained a motion regarding Ordinance No. 1652.
Motion to adopt the favorable recommendation of the Plan Commission and adopt Ordinance No. 1652 by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Mr. Forbes advised that the Plan Commission vote ended in a tie, resulting in a no recommendation from the Plan Commission. The developers are here this evening, the Lantzes.
Mr. Forbes asked for any comments or questions.
Mr. Brian Lantz stated that he is a co-owner of Lantz Development. Mr. Lantz further stated that he usually doesn’t speak and leaves that to his engineer. There were remonstrators at the last meeting, some with legitimate questions and others that, he believes, just don’t want progress or development.
Mr. Lantz stated that he put a lot of thought and effort into the layout as he had to consider the requirement of a second entrance on Cline Avenue, three existing structures on Cline Avenue, tying into an existing road stubbed to the west, the natural slope of the property, and a pipeline with a large required easement running diagonally through the property.
Mr. Lantz advised that it is not, nor was it ever, their goal to squeeze everything out of this parcel. The lots were kept at 100-feet wide. Mr. Lantz stated that he feels this is the best design while maintaining the integrity of the overall outcome of the development.
Mr. Lantz stated that the majority of the folks he builds homes for now are baby boomers who don’t want large lots. People today who have a pool or have dogs want to be able to fence the yard in and don’t want to spend money on having a huge fence running around a large lot. Some don’t have the time or desire to take care of a big lot.
Mr. Lantz stated that he understands the board needs to listen to the people’s comments about lot sizes; however, the board should also consider the opinions of the new people wanting to move into this town as well. He added that they are not asking for duplex lots, multifamily, a PUD, or narrower lots. They are only requesting shorter lots as there are only 21 acres to work with in this development.
Mr. Lantz made reference to his subdivision Bramblewood and the success of that subdivision, which is R-2 lots. He commented that this subdivision will raise home values in the area and not diminish them. He beseeched the board to consider what he has to work with on this parcel and to grant him approval to move forward with this development.
Mr. Lantz thanked the Council for their time and allowing him to speak.
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Rettig if the comparison that was done of R-1 and R-2 reflects a difference of only five houses. Mr. Rettig responded in the affirmative.
Mr. Volk stated that he is not opposed to the development in that area and that the Lantzes do nice work; however, the Cline Avenue corridor is pretty well completely built out with the exception of the property they have, and the density is too much for that area.
Mr. Forbes asked for any further questions or comments. Hearing none, he entertained a motion.
Motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1653 by Mr. Hastings. Motion dies for lack of a second.
Motion to deny Ordinance No. 1653 by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carries 3 ayes to 2 nays; Mr. Hastings and Mr. Forbes voted nay.
Motion to accept Bond No. 1150227 in the amount of $224,309.80 by Mr. Volk. Seconded by Mr. Jorgensen. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Motion to accept Bond No. 1150217 in the amount of $312,532 by Mr. Barenie. Seconded by Mr. Jorgensen. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Motion to adopt Resolution No. 2017-06-29A by Mr. Volk. Seconded by Mr. Hastings. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Motion to defer by Mr. Jorgensen. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
Vehicle thefts totaled $9000, other thefts totaled $6200, and recovered property totaled $9000.
Chief Kveton thanked the Town Council for their support in the hiring of Officer Sandaker. In reference to a comment made earlier regarding Joliet Street, the St. John Police Department has been working with the residents in that area regarding complaints on speeding. Regular traffic enforcement has been run and resulted in several warning citations, traffic stops, and regular citations. Chief Kveton stated that if anyone has any questions to reach out to him and he’d be happy to answer those questions.
Chief Willman reported that during the month of May 2017, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 141 requests for assistance. There were 102 calls in District 1, 19 calls in District 2, and 20 calls in District 3. Mutual Aid included Lake Hills, Fire and EMS with an ambulance for a residential medical emergencies times 3; Schererville, Fire and EMS with a demand for manpower for residential natural gas leak times 1, and an ALS ambulance for residential or commercial medical emergencies times 10; Cedar Lake, Fire and EMS with an ambulance for residential medical emergency, and we had to take a pass on a residential structure fire in Cedar Lake.
The Monday night activities for the department started off with our regular monthly Business Meeting, Monday night fire training basic extrication rescue operation. May 15th was EMS training for procedures on location triage, mass casualty. The 22nd was Fire and EMS training regarding mapping and updating of at the new addresses. The 29th was the VFW Memorial Service at the park at 8 a.m. and (inaudible) scheduled activities in the evening.
Motion to pay the bills by Mr. Barenie. Seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carries 5 ayes to 0 nays.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.)
Margaret R. Abernathy, Recording Secretary
Transcription of Minutes Only
St. John Town Council
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to hold public comment subsequent to the presentation by the St. John Youth Baseball because it has to do with significant Town funds and requests. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
“I’ll move to adopt,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Ms. Hernandez congratulated Officer Widen.
Mr. Forbes congratulated Officer Widen and welcomed him aboard.
St. John Youth Baseball experienced some issues last winter with their netting system. Mr. Bonato stated they have four fields at Heartland Park, and they have one of the best facilities in Northwest Indiana. He stated this past December and January they have experienced a lot of snow accumulation which has done a lot of damage to the netting. He referred to the pictures on the screen. Mr. Bonato stated the snow accumulation did not only destroy the netting system, but also the fencing for the backstops and the fencing for the safety of all of the kids. It has torn major holes in there. They made a few repairs for the 2017 season and made-do with it to prevent any injuries to the kids. If they remove the netting system, they have four fields that are all back-to-back with little kids.
We are here to provide for kids from T-ball all of the way up to Babe Ruth. Those four fields are giving everybody an opportunity here. Mr. Bonato stated they have had the highest number of kids in the past five years, and now, they are up to 436 kids.
Mr. Bonato stated if they completely remove the netting, they are taking a risk. He stated, in today’s day and age, people are on their smart phones and foul balls are coming in. He added if people are watching a game on Field 1, foul balls could be coming from Field 2, 3, or 4.
Mr. Bonato added they currently have 436 kids playing on 41 teams. They have a travel organization where many outside organizations are trying to “steal” their members. He stated he took this position in November because he wanted to keep the kids here in St. John. Kids from all over Northwest Indiana are welcome to play here, and he wants to offer them the best. He stated they hosted their first Mother’s Day tournament, four District Tournaments, and two State Tournaments. They received many great compliments in regards to the facility due hosting these tournaments. He stated they have a great staff, which are all volunteers, and they aim for the best. They are trying to host the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament next year for 2018, which is one-step down from the World Series. He stated it is a great tournament with seven different states coming from all over the region. Mr. Bonato mentioned they have the possibility of the World Series and added Hammond is hosting their second World Series in the past six years. He added that their 10U Tomahawks are in that World Series.
Mr. Bonato stated the proposal is from Pro Netting System. He said the netting system put up a few years ago was put up on their galvanized fencing. He stated those fences are now bowing. Pro Netting System is willing to put up independent OD steel posts 10 feet deep that are independently supported with its own cable system for each field.
The netting system would be independent from its fencing and they could prevent further bowing to the fences.
Mr. Bonato mentioned they gave a proposal to the St. John Town Council and provided a PowerPoint presentation. He stated he has had several meetings with Mr. Kil. He added they have put a lot of effort into this for the safety of the kids. He mentioned this is not for outside travel, but to keep our kids here in St. John.
Mr. Bonato stated they put in $20,000 of work last year on the scoreboards in order to get all of the tournaments here. They also have put in $11,000 worth of work in three of their fields and $16,000 on Field 4 to accommodate the kids. He stated they are trying to make a family atmosphere by bringing out mascots for the kids and make it a destination place.
Mr. Bonato said St. John is growing with all of the subdivisions and their numbers are soaring for fall ball. He is confident Spring 2018 is going to be another strong year. He stated they need help to provide for the safety of the kids because if they take down the nets, they are at risk. St. John Youth Baseball just doesn’t have the deep pockets.
Mr. Geldmeyer stated Crown Point has a very nice facility but they do not have a netting system. During the State Championship, families who play for Crown Point 8U all the way up to 12U, paid SJYB compliments as far as how well we host tournaments and how safe they feel because of the netting system.
Mr. Bonato reiterated that St. John is one of the best places to live and added he is here for the long haul, with his youngest child at age four and his oldest child at age nine. He stated he will build it, the Board will build it, the League will build it, but he is just asking for help. He wants to be back on the map because, unfortunately, St. John baseball was not on the map a few years ago. Mr. Bonato stated he wants to know he did everything he could to provide the best experience and safest experience and left the facility better than when he started.
Mr. Bonato stated that Mr. Geldmeyer can speak about any any further financial reports should the Council have specific questions and stated he is willing to answer any questions.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions from the Council. Mr. Jorgensen stated for transparency purposes, and so that everyone knows, the new netting would cost $90,500. St. John Youth Baseball is not a 501.3C. Mr. Geldmeyer corrected that statement and said the league is not-for-profit.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if SJYB was willing to contribute any money towards the netting. Mr. Geldmeyer stated they are able to give between 5 and 7.5 percent, which would be $5,000 to $6,900. He stated their financials are open to anyone, and the public is welcome to attend any SJYB meetings. Mr. Geldmeyer referred to a summary of their financials and stated all of the revenue that comes in is reinvested in the fields since they are a not-for-profit. He stated this year, they have improved Field 1, 2, 3 and Babe Ruth, which cost roughly $17,000 beyond the normal field maintenance. He added they purchased a tractor for the Babe Ruth field and an AED defibulator for $35,000 just in case it was needed.
Mr. Geldmeyer mentioned that last year, they added $20,000 in scoreboards, field renovation on Field 4 for $16,000-$17,000 and another $13,000 for normal wear and tear maintenance. For 2016, they invested $50,000 back into the program and ended 2016 with roughly $12,000.
Mr. Geldmeyer added, for 2017, they have fall registration with money coming in, but they also have to purchase uniforms or money going out. The have concession items coming in and going out. They have a golf outing coming in and going out. They anticipate ending 2017 with between $5,000 to $12,000.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he moved Public Comment until after the presentation because he knows they have a lot of active people in the community. A lot of people like to criticize how the Council spends money and how they propose to spend money. He stated his son was in the program and he thinks it is fantastic, but it is a lot of money.
Mr. Jorgensen stated the Town itself has paid for the netting twice for about $50,000 each, so the Town is $100,000 deep as a Town now. Mr. Jorgensen mentioned he believes the insurance company will pay about $30,000 of the $90,000 total. Mr. Kil clarified the check was for $35,000 of the $90,000.
Mr. Jorgensen said, with the numbers now being disclosed, he wants to hear from the people tonight during Public Comment, and also allow people to write letters about this type of expenditure. He stated they do not normally have a Public Hearing about this type of thing.
Mr. Bonato stated about two months ago, a food-service truck backed into a fence and about one quarter of the netting system. SJYB had to pay out of pocket as well as look for volunteers for repairs between Field 1 and Field 2. Someone almost got hit in the head at the District Tournament without the netting system in place and that will continue to happen again and again if the netting system is down.
Mr. Geldmeyer acknowledged this is a large capital expenditure and thanked the Council for their time this evening.
Mr. Bonato added that as President of the League, he speaks on behalf of the Board and League families and appreciates the opportunity to present tonight.
Janice Wilschke, 9867 Hart St.
Ms. Wilschke stated she teaches kindergarten and knows baseball is more than a game for these little boys. She has been to games and appreciates the nets and the safety aspect. She questioned if the nets were able to be taken down in the winter.
Mr. Bonato answered that, unfortunately, they are not able to be removed. They researched different companies, but they are just not designed to be removed. He stated they will last approximately 4-5 years, and if damage is done, St. John Youth Baseball will take care of repairs.
Ms. Wilschke stated she has lived in the Three Springs subdivision with her husband Bob for 13 years next month. They were one of the first families to move into the development. They live in a townhouse/duplex on Hart Street. When they first decided to buy their townhome, they were taking a big risk by buying a property that was not yet built in a subdivision that was completely developed. The first night they moved in with their young daughters and dog, they heard coyotes howling outside their bedroom window and wondered if they made the right decision. Thirteen years later, they are thankful they took that leap of faith. Ms. Wilschke came here tonight in support of Barrick Builders. She stated she can vouch that the owner, Dave Barrick, is one of the hardest working people she knows, and he really cares about his reputation as a responsible builder. He works any day of the week working from sun up to sun down, building, landscaping, and even keeping his empty lots maintained. Throughout their time in Three Springs, they watched him complete Phase 1 and continue on to Phase 2 and expand for more families to join their neighborhood to create what it is today—a quiet, safe, clean, and friendly neighborhood of families, singles and retirees. For Phase 3, Barrick Builders is going to plan single-family homes with townhomes nearer to the power lines and railroad. This was planned in consideration for the safety of families with young children. The townhomes will serve as a residential buffer preventing easy access to the power lines and the railroad tracks. From her experiences and observations in the last 13 years, she believes Barrick Builders can be trusted to build a Phase 3 plan that will uphold the quality and integrity of the community that they have helped create; the residents enjoy and want to preserve.
John Consier, 2795 Autumn, Crown Point
Mr. Consier stated he has been a real estate broker in the tri-town area since 1989. Three Springs wants to develop Phase 3, which, unfortunately, has a lot of real estate obsolescence in it, mainly the high power lines and the pipe lines. According to an article in the Appraiser’s Journal, homes suffer a loss of value when high voltage power lines are evident. The loss is between 1 percent and 10 percent. A study by Hamilton and Gregory Schwan examined the effect the proximity of high voltage power lines have on real estate property by examining over 12,000 homes. Homes with high power lines lost an average of 6.3 percent in value. Fifty-two of fifty-four real estate agents interviewed by Oak Times stated high voltage power lines lowered residential property values. They noted more expensive homes were more likely to suffer in value compared with cheaper homes. The more expensive home will lose more. A correlation between power lines and homes reduced property values 2-9 percent. For example, a house that should sell for $250,000 translates into a reduction of $5,000 to $22,500.
Mr. Consier stated St. John knows all about high-tension lines and the buried petroleum lines with the Homestead Acres subdivision. They not only have high-tension lines but also the pumping station and underground pipeline. Through his experience selling homes, Mr. Consier stated he had countless clients who looked at homes out in Homestead Acres and did not want anything to do with the power lines because they cause health problems and the pumping station was noisy and can cause possible leaks.
Mr. Consier stated, in order for Mr. Barrick to build in Three Springs, he is going to have to build homes to benefit the younger group that is going to want lesser price homes or the elderly.
Mr. Forbes, “You have thirty seconds.”
Mr. Consier added that Mr. Barrick is looking to build something that is a little less pricey, something that the younger people and the elderly people will want, and not the pricey, expensive homes.
Jane Wendlinger, 9865 Hart St.
Ms. Wendlinger stated she has lived on Hart Street for three years. She was previously a resident of Schererville for over 40 years. She needed to sell her house after her husband passed away, and she wanted to find a wonderful place to live. She ended up in St. John. She stated she likes St. John and Three Springs, and she likes the fact she has neighbors that are retirement age and neighbors behind her that are younger with young children. She enjoys being around them, and it is a very pleasant neighborhood. She believes it would be nice to have a place for other retirees to go and find a nice, decent place to live. Ms. Wendlinger wanted to let the Council know how much she appreciates St. John and how glad she is to live here. She stated she hopes there will not be a problem with Three Springs because she really doesn’t see traffic and she doesn’t see any negativity to it.
David Cerven, 9013 Indianapolis Highland
Mr. Cerven stated he represents Mr. Barrick and was hoping he could speak on behalf Three Springs. Mr. Forbes stated that would be fine.
Rafeek Besheer, 9971 Hart St.
Mr. Besheer stated he and his wife, Jane, live on the north side of the lake facing Phase 3. He referred to the development data that the builder has on the Plat of Survey. It states the proposed land use is 34.21 acres which includes 8.783 acres of lake. The total land area, backing off the 8 acres of water, is 25.508 acres. The developer is proposing 52 units, which comes out to a density of 2.03 units per acre, not 1.52 units per acre as the developer claims.
Mr. Besheer does not believe the water should be included in the land. He stated he has checked with a few architects to advise him. He stated he also did a Google survey of the lake which hasn’t changed since 2002. This tells him the developer did not have to give up any land to provide for a retention pond. He stated that is the reason for not including the lake in the overall land.
Jerry Jorsch, 12081 W 83th Pl
Mr. Jorsch stated he lives with his wife, Lisa, in the Huron Lakes subdivision. He stated a lot of families have been moving in, and there are a lot of little kids that play in the area. He lives at the end of the cul-de-sac and stated the Town put a “No Outlet” sign there about two years ago. He stated the trees have covered it, and it is past the stop sign, so people do not see it and drive through. Mr. Jorsch is asking for the sign to be corrected.
Mr. Forbes asked Chief Kveton to put that on his to-do list.
Gretchen Sutherland, 10075 Springlake Rd.
Ms. Sutherland stated she is a proud St. John resident and is very happy in her home that was built by Mr. Barrick. She stated she has raised her children in the home and her daughter played softball at the fields at Heartland Park. She chose to raise her family here and believes she lives in a high quality community. Community is very important to her, and it is a beautiful place to live.
Ms. Sutherland would like the Town Council to deny the rezoning based on the Indiana Code Development Standard Variance criteria. Criteria 1 states that approval not be inaudible to the public safety, moral, and general welfare of the community. She stated while this is not the majority reason for her objection, it could pose a risk because there is only one access point to the neighborhood on Springlake Rd. It could be an issue for emergency responders.
Criteria 2 is the use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will not be affected in a substantially adverse manner. She stated the adjacent property values will adversely be impacted, property values will be reduced, thus reducing tax revenue even though there will be an increase in need for emergency and town services.
Criteria 3 states the strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance will result in practical difficulties of the property. While the parcel is not the same quality as Phase 1 and Phase 2, there is nothing that poses practical difficulties. Mr. Barrick can still build single-family homes of the same size on lots that are similar size.
Ms. Sutherland stated that these three criteria show why the variance should be denied. She stated there is no doubt St. John is going to continue to grow and Mr. Barrick will build homes in Phase 3 of the Three Springs subdivision. Mr. Barrick’s revised plan still includes duplexes along the high-tension lines. His plan should only include duplexes along the railroad if these are to be included. Those lots by the high- tension lines should be single-family homes on similar size lots.
Mr. Forbes: “You have thirty seconds remaining.”
Ms. Sutherland stated she spoke with Mr. Barrick on July 5th and expressed she liked how he removed the cottage homes and that there are single-family homes included in the revised plan. She also discussed that she disagrees with including the duplexes by the high-tension power lines. He stated people do not buy homes near high power lines. She stated less than a mile away from Phase 3 sit many new homes with sale prices around a half of a million dollars. Ms. Sutherland referenced that these homes sit on Golden Arch and Silver Maple.
Mr. Forbes: “I’m sorry, but your time is up.”
Mr. Austgen stated, for clarity on the record, he heard the public comment, and that stands of course, but they are not here on a developmental or use variance. The agenda provides for a zone change. Mr. Austgen added there is a different criterion that he believes Mr. Cerven will speak about but there is a different criterion than what was just mentioned.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet St
Mr. Swets stated he filed a remonstrance against the agreement with Boyer. He stated he was not at the meeting. It was passed, but he wanted it on record that he filed a remonstrance against that.
Mr. Swets said when a builder shares his plans with the neighborhood; one should not to be surprised when residents are upset when he makes significant changes. These changes include adding twice as many homes, putting them on smaller lots, and putting up small houses or duplexes right across the lake from 100-foot wide lots.
Mr. Swets stated he has nothing negative to say about Mr. Barrick or the houses he builds, but he would like to remonstrate against his request for rezoning. The proposal does not even try to come close to the Town’s codes. The petitioner has not paid any attention to the requests of the Plan Commission on many occasions. Rather, he’s demanding that he gets it his way. During a study session, one commissioner suggested he put single-family homes south of the pipeline. He was also told 78-foot wide lakefront lots would not work. He ignored their ideas and came back with no changes. After getting deferred, he came back with minor changes but not close to what was suggested. Mr. Forbes even said what gets approved here will likely be continued east and south in the next developments.
Mr. Swets stated at the last public meeting, Mr. Forbes took the side of the developer by passing the gavel to second his motion to approve the petition. He stated Mr. Forbes also tried to influence the Plan Commission and disrespected the people of Three Springs people who spoke up against Mr. Barrick’s development.
Mr. Swets stated Mr. Forbes had no knowledge of the discussion or promises made by Mr. Barrick. He understands the developer is in the business to make money, and he also realizes this is a challenging piece of property to develop because of railroads, pipelines, and power lines. However, Mr. Barrick knew these challenges when he bought the property. Mr. Swets stated Mr. Barrick even shared that he got a good deal on the property because of these issues. “Mr. Barrick can’t shake his money bags at us and then cry poor at the same time.” Waterfront property is becoming a valuable commodity. Mr. Swets added that he is asking you not to allow cottage homes or multi- family units in this development, which will influence the development all around it and reduce the value of the surrounding properties. He stated he is asking them to keep the area R-1 like the surrounding homes. Lots 2-24 are single family, but they are only 82 feet wide which is too small.
Mr. Forbes: “Thirty seconds remaining.”
Mr. Swets added Lots 25 and 26 are lake front lots. Lots 27 and 28 are the only ones on the railroad tracks. The percentage of multi-family homes in St. John is already high enough. Increasing the density will increase the need for sewer, garbage, and so on.
Mr. Swets reiterated he is asking the Council to deny the request for rezoning. The people from Three Springs have been dealing with this since November so make it clear that you want what is best for them and their home values.
Mr. Forbes: “Your time is up.”
Mr. Swets continued with just say no.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil if there were any R-1 in Three Springs. Mr. Forbes answered, “No.” Mr. Kil replied Three Springs is R-2 and R-3. Mr. Jorgensen reiterated they are all R-2 and R-3.
Mr. Forbes added the ones that back up to the lake are technically R-1 because the back property line goes into the lake. He stated that is how it was set up when the subdivision was originally designed. Mr. Kil stated the cul-de-sac on Hart Street actually has the duplexes that back up to the lake. When you go to the east, you have some single-family homes that back up around the lake, but they are still zoned R-2. Mr.
Forbes asked Mr. Kil if the back property goes into the lake. Members of the audience responded, “No.” Mr. Kil stated the subdivision in R-2 and R-3. Mr. Jorgensen questioned if this is for the entire subdivision.
(General discussion ensued.)
An audience member stated there is R-1 in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Mr. Kil stated that Phase 1 has all of the duplexes in it next to the railroad tracks. Mr. Forbes stated there is no R-1 Phase 1. Mr. Kil said there are some R-1 sized lots. An audience member stated Phase 1 is zoned R-1, R-2, and R-3.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen asked about the zoning of Phase 2. An audience member stated R-2 and R-3 but there are R-1 sized lots as well.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes stated, from the beginning of this project, there was always going to be a request for R-3 in that back corner. He does not feel it is accurate to say this is a “bait and switch.”
Mr. Forbes stated that Mr. Swets said this does not comply with the rules, but it does comply with rules for R-2 PUD and R-3 zoning. We are following the rules of the Plan Commission for those specific zonings.
Mr. Forbes stated he does not appreciate the accusation he is working with the developer. He has been hearing this comment a lot lately. He stated he has no contact with Mr. Barrick other than this meeting room. He stated he saw him once at Schoop’s, but other than that, he has not seen or talked to him outside of the meeting room.
Mary Therese Robert, 11990 Heron Lake Rd.
Ms. Robert stated she is glad she is not the only one complaining about the traffic. She stated it has been an ongoing issue.
Ms. Robert stated she came to the Council about two years ago for the Emerald Ash Borer problem and was told they have a tree board. She stated they neglected to inform her the board has never been filled. She questioned if they are not being truthful about small things like this, how about things for the greater good of the Town. She reminded Mr. Forbes that this is for public comment right now.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Dr.
Mr. Blazak stated he believes at the public hearing held on July 5th, the residents of Three Springs made their feelings rather clear about the plat submission on two separate occasions for the development of Phase 3. He stated they collectively said “No” to rezoning R-2 and R-3 and the resulting duplexes on those lots. Both public hearings were quite crowded. Several residents stated they bought their Three Springs property because the developer said that Phase 3 would be R-1 sized lots just like the home sizes they were buying in Phase 2.
Mr. Blazak stated that at the July 5th public hearing, Mr. Forbes felt the need to speak out on behalf of the developer and basically call the residents disrespectful. Mr. Forbes, himself, was disrespectful to the residents of Three Springs who spoke the truth and exposed their feelings at a public meeting. He said Mr. Forbes owes the residents of Three Springs an apology for calling them disrespectful and implying they did not tell the truth during public comment. He mentioned Mr. Forbes does not have the right to be disrespectful to any citizen in the Town of St. John who stands before the Commission and expresses their opinion or feelings when in a public hearing because he may have a difference of opinion. Mr. Blazak added that Mr. Forbes then played procedural games by passing the gavel because no one would second his motion. He stated Mr. Forbes did this on two different occasions because Mr. Forbes did not get the vote he wanted. He added there was a voice vote that ended in a 3/3 tie, so now it comes to the Council with no recommendation.
Mr. Blazak stated St. John does not need more duplexes or smaller lots. The development was approved as R-1, R-2, and R-3 and should stay exactly as it was initially approved since no hardships have occurred. He suggested the Council vote down the rezoning.
Mary Jo Biscan, 10201 99th Ave
Ms. Biscan stated she is very confused now because she wrote her comments as a resident of Three Springs whose home was built on the pond on an R-1 lot. That is always what she’s been told and will proceed as such.
Ms. Biscan stated after all of the meetings and commentaries, it simply comes down to keeping the zoning as originally intended. Those who came before this current Council must have felt this was best for the future of St. John. She said the previous Council did not want a run-of-the-mill town with small lots and numerous multi-family homes causing overcrowding and infrastructure problems that are typical in these situations. She mentioned she feels she can safely say that the people built in Three Springs subdivision because they saw the beautiful lots available and the lovely homes built on them as R-1 lots. They were told this is how Phase 3 would continue. She stated there is not much room left for multi-family homes and St. John will be reaching its suggested eight percent growth, if we haven’t already.
Ms. Biscan requested that the Council does not set a precedence of granting variances to accommodate extra housing and leaving infrastructure unable to support the increased traffic and safety of its residences. She asked them to please respect the original zoning set in Three Springs and the other subdivisions. She asked them to respect the Town’s reputation of having spacious lots with the majority single-family homes. She stated how the Council votes now will affect the future of their homes, neighborhoods, and Town. She added she hopes they will do what is best for all of St. John and future residents.
Paul Schulz, 10103 W 99th Ave
Mr. Schultz stated he lives in one of the 100 x 200 foot lots on the lake. He stated he wants everything to stay R-1. He has been coming to meetings for six months, and he cannot imagine what kind of hardship Mr. Barrick is going through in order to try to get this passed.
Gina Eustace, 10070 Springlake Rd
Ms. Eustace stated she has lived in Three Springs subdivision for nine years, and she loves her neighbors and neighborhood. She stated she moved there because the area was beautiful and the lot sizes were large and the community was nice. She stated she would like to echo the thoughts and sentiments of her neighbors and asks the Council, respectfully, to deny the request of the builder to reduce the lot sizes in her existing neighborhood as well as the building of many multi-family units on existing large, single family lot sizes.
Joe Hero, 11723 S. Oakridge Dr.
Mr. Hero stated the Council heard the presentation made by the St. John Youth Baseball. It is his understanding that the Town owns the property and the fields and leases it to the group. He believes it is gross negligence if the Town does not pay the whole cost of replacing the nets for safety reasons.
Mr. Hero stated there is a pattern of rezoning where people come in and make pledges and then they want to go and rezone. The Council has heard all of the previous remonstrators against it. He stated people rely on what they purchase and what the neighborhood is presented to be. Bu then, the Town Council decides to “spot zone”.
They are coming in to change zoning that has already been done, and it damages everyone’s property values.
Mr. Hero stated he did not see anything in the Boyer Agreement that stated there needed to be escrow money put in a financial institution to ensure the success of this project. He stated it was his understanding it was in the original agreement, but he does not see that in the current agreement. He stated the Town is catering to special interest groups. He stated he is not saying those people are bad, but that the management of this Town is bad. For these reasons, Mr. Hero remonstrated against the R-1 rezoning and the other items mentioned.
Sue Furtek, 10015 Springlake Rd.
Ms. Furtek stated she is asking the Council to deny the zoning variance in the Three Springs subdivision. She said she has been following this and has been coming to the meetings. She added it seems all across Town, developers want to shrink their 100- foot wide lots. Ms. Furtek stated she came to St. John because of the 100-foot wide lots. These duplexes are being requested on 100-foot wide lots. She does not see how a duplex would fit on a 100-foot lot. She is not opposed to duplexes, but she is opposed to the volume. Ms. Furtek understands there are issues with those lots, but as people stated previously, there are single-family homes near the power lines. Ms. Furtek added the builder is not in financial disparity. She stated the back lots are R-2, which is 100 by 150; she is on an R-2 lot in Phase 2. Ms. Furtek said the Town has to put single-family homes on these types of lots.
Ms. Furtek added there would be excessive traffic in the subdivision because there is only one way in and one way out. She stated the traffic would come down her street, and she does not want that. She mentioned that when you put that kind of density in that small area, it causes problems on the main roads too. She stated many people are moving here from Illinois, but they are not quitting their jobs in Illinois to live here; they need that job to pay for the house in St. John because it is not cheap.
Ms. Furtek stated the Town has to pay for the net for baseball. She mentioned her son plays baseball there, and you sit there and wonder when is the ball going to hit you.
She stated even when she sits in the stands, she gets a little nervous because the nets got damaged again in this year. She added the year prior, they were so damaged, that start times for the games had to be delayed, so they could put a giant pole in to hold up the net. She believes the Town needs to support the baseball group and give them their net.
Ronna Reznik, 9971 Wisteria Ln.
Ms. Reznik stated she wanted to continue what Ms. Sutherland was speaking about. She stated several homes sold on Golden Arch and Silver Maple. For example, 10310 Golden Arch sold for $526,500 in April 2016. 10318 Golden Arch sold for $479,900 in March 2016 and is currently listed at $518,000. On Adler Cove, in between Golden Arch and Phase 3, several homes have sold for over $330,000 with large lot sizes and all of those back up to high-tension lines.
Ms. Reznik stated, as for the confusion on R-1 zoning in Phase 2, she has a site map of all of the lots with the dimensions on them. She mentioned there are three lots that back up to her home, Lots 157, 158, and 159. They are all 100 by 200 feet, which is the R-1 classification in Phase 2.
William James, Local 150 Operating Engineers
Mr. James stated he is representing the Local 150 Operating Engineers and they have over 100 members that live in the Town of St. John. He stated they wanted to encourage the Town Council to support the South Shore Rail Line Extension project. The project will put their members to work during the construction and will create jobs after the rail line is in. They are anticipating economic development that will occur within the train corridor. He stated fifteen of the neighboring communities have already supported this project, including county government. The State also supports the project as shown by the six million dollars per year commitment by the governor. He stated Congressman Visclosky is behind the project as well. Mr. James added he would like to see St. John support it as well with possibly CEDIT money.
Pat Moran, 9929 W 100th Pl
Mr. Moran stated he lives in Phase 2 of Three Springs development. He added he is here to support his neighbors and wants to request the Council deny Mr. Barrick’s proposal for the development. He mentioned he was at one of the meetings where twenty-one people spoke out against this development. Mr. Moran stated they are still very opposed to the development.
Dave Layman, 9315 W 103rd St
Mr. Layman stated he has four kids and his oldest plays baseball right now. He added he coaches out on the field and his three younger ones are running around with their friends. He said there are always so many kids running around playing and having a blast. He mentioned it is a piece of mind to have the net. His one year old just learned how to walk, and he does not want to worry about baseballs hitting him in the head. He stated he knows a lot of people there appreciate it. He knows a lot of fields do not have the netting and maybe they make do or maybe they get hurt but it is definitely a piece of mind to have the nets, and everyone appreciates it.
Tim Wolff, 8229 Meadow Ct.
Mr. Wolff stated he wants to reflect that the youth of St. John is the future of St. John, and we need to support everything youth orientated in the Town of St. John.
However, it was always contemplated that they would buy this parcel of property. He reiterated that it is very small and makes up a sliver of the entire development. He stated it is on the very western border of the property and backs up to Emerald Crossing, which is unincorporated. Mr. Kil wanted to provide reference to where the property was located. He stated it was a voluntary petition to annex.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet StMr. Swets stated he knows this is a small parcel and the other one after is a little bit larger. He wanted to incorporate statements for both. He stated it concerns him that every time new “stuff” comes in, it adds to the density. He stated we need to stay with large lot sizes as much as possible. He stated he is not going to speak against an annexation because that is the way the Town grows. He would just like to see the Town grow responsibly.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil how annexing in a commercial property is beneficial to the Town. Mr. Kil stated there is a reason every community vies for commercial development. Annexing commercial development is key because it does not require services from the town, or, at least, very little services. He stated commercial properties increase the assessed value of the town while requiring no services, which drives down the tax rate the residents pay. Mr. Kil stated he has never heard the residents say their taxes are too high. He stated the reason the taxes are reasonable in the community is that the Town’s assessed value keeps rising. As the assessed value rises, the tax rate lowers. He stated St. John is in a unique position because they can grow and see property values increase while maintaining the tax rate. St. John is the lowest tax rate in Lake County besides Winfield, which does not have a police or fire department. He stated commercial development is vital to keeping the residential tax rate in check.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any other questions. Hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance No. 1651 on first reading only. Mr. Jorgensen made the motion. It was seconded by Mr. Barenie.
The motion passed (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Kil said the projects presented for the grant are 101st Avenue, between Calumet and White Oak, including the intersection of Calumet and 101st. It is one mile of roadway to reconstruct plus a new signal at Calumet and 101st. Mr. Kil stated the Town also applied for Parrish and the boundary for that project would run from 231 on the south to 101st on the north, including an intersection improvement at Parrish and 101st. He stated an intersection improvement is not included at 109th at this time for the grant. He stated the projects are already over $400 thousand over the million so we needed to back off but those two roads are slated for reconstruction.
Mr. Kil stated this if the first of three items tonight to be considered. He stated it is a little presumptuous in that the Town believes they will get the grant. If the grant is not received, it will just sit until applied for again next year.
Mr. Jorgensen stated if they are pro-active now they are in a position to begin construction this year. Mr. Kil responded they would know if they were awarded the grant in mid to late August and there is a contract in place with Welsh and Kelly to start immediately.
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Austgen if they can do a second reading since there are only four Council members present. Mr. Austgen replied it can be done as long as the action is unanimous.
Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to consider Ordinance No. 1665. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1665. “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried 4/0 by voice vote. Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Hearing none, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to adopt Resolution 2017-07-27. “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Rafeek Besheer, 9971 Hart St
Mr. Besheer stated he was curious how much money was being transferred into the Rainy Day Fund. Mr. Forbes replied that $495,525 was transferred into the Rainy Day Fund for the purpose of road improvements.
Mr. Kil stated it was allowable to transfer ten percent of the General Fund into the Rainy Day Fund each year. He stated they are limited by law and they transferred the maximum amount into the Rainy Day Fund.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance No. 1657. “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1657. “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was seconded by Mr. Hastings. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to defer. Mr. Hastings seconded that motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Hearing none, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to release the letter of credit in the amount of $30,212.60. The motion was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Cerven stated with respect to this property in Phase 3, it is an albatross. He stated the members on the Plan Commission knew it from the beginning and it is almost land locked with having the lake on the north side of the property and the railroad tracks on the west side of the property and power lines on the south side of the property. Mr. Cerven stated one of the things that has been missed is that in the front of the property, on the south side with the power lines, there are gas easements of five acres of property. The property in front of the power lines and between the easements is landlocked. He wanted to share the problems with the property and why they are asking for it to be re-zoned to RC-2 PUD, which is a residential conservation and R-3. He stated for the rezoning to R-3, they are not asking for smaller lots. The lots are going to be standard lots the same as Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Mr. Cerven stated he was before the Plan Commission twice, Mr. Barrick was there numerous times along with Mr. Rettig to answer any questions, and they have made numerous changes to the plan. The houses along the lake and south of that property started out as duplexes in the plan. They took the duplexes out and replaced it with house lots there. They expanded the size of the lots from 62 to 76 and now it is 82 feet. He stated they are not cottage houses. Mr. Cerven said when he was at the Plan Commission last and it was a 3-3 vote, people were not objecting to the houses. With respect to the other portions of the property along the railroad tracks and the power lines is where Mr. Barrick wants the duplexes to go to act as a buffer. He does not believe people had a problem with the duplexes along the railroad tracks but rather the duplexes proposed along the power lines. Mr. Cerven stressed what makes the property different is not the power lines close to the back of those properties, but the gas easements in front over five acres of property. He said no one is going to want to build a house there or raise a family near the power lines coupled with the gas lines in front. He stated duplexes are the best use of the property to make a higher value for the Town.
Mr. Cerven stated if you look at studies, people who live in duplexes are mainly empty nesters and newlyweds. He added he sees this as a bedroom community. He reiterated it is almost landlocked by the railroad tracks, power lines, and the water. He mentioned people will be living there that do not have families or kids. People were opposed to this because it was going to increase traffic and wreak havoc with teenage parties and so on. He stated it is not going to happen; it is going to be a bedroom community. Mr. Cervan said if it was all houses, there would be more traffic than what is being proposed. He stated when you have kids, you have soccer practice, Little League practice, and you have a lot of running in and out, but with empty nesters and newlyweds, you do not have that. You have stay at home folks. You have a community that is going to be quiet, not disruptive to the surrounding people.
Mr. Cerven stated the property was zoned R-1 just like every other property that comes into this Town and those other 2 phases were rezoned properly with actually more R-3 parcels in there and duplexes that are being proposed in this particular situation. He said it is not going to impair the peaceful enjoyment of the surrounding properties. He stated it will be quieter than if there were houses. He stated it was not going to be detrimental to the values of the properties that surround. The duplexes in Phase 1 are quality places. He stated they are not small, junky looking places. He stated they are quality places and that is exactly what is going to go into Phase 3. He stated it is not going to be detrimental to the value at all and, in fact, it may even increase it. He stated it is better than having a black hole of dirt sit out there as it is right now. He stated it will be a visually pleasing community because what is going to happen is out of the 34 acres, almost half, 14 acres is going to be open space between the easements and all of the other open space. He added it will be an open area, not a congested area with houses. Mr. Cerven reiterated almost half of the area will be green space.
Furthermore, he mentioned it would not put an undue hardship on the Town, the police department, fire department, and schools. He doesn’t believe there will be any students living in them. Mr. Cerven said he sees it as a great thing for the Town and does not see it setting a precedence with town houses all along the power lines. Mr. Cervan reiterated this is a different, unique situation because of not just the power lines, but because of the easements in front of the power lines, which prevents the making of any type of home with value. Mr. Cerven added there are not $500,000 homes in any portion of Phase 1, Phase 2, or Phase 3 of this subdivision so to compare it with the neighboring subdivision is comparing apples to oranges. He stated the primary concerns he heard were traffic and that is just not going to happen.
Mr. Forbes: “I’m going to have to cut you off. I appreciate your input. And, just for the record, I allowed both Lance and this developer’s attorney to speak because of the situation that we are in. Really, no recommendation came from the Plan Commission and I want you guys to have an opportunity to hear everything and see if there are any questions you want to ask of the petitioner. So with that said, are there any questions?”
Mr. Barenie stated it seems that a lot of the discussion for all Plan Commission meetings and Council meetings have been on R-3’s lately. He wanted to say the EDC has hired a consultant who is going to start on a project to evaluate our neighboring communities and see where their weighted averages of R-1, R-2, and R-3 are in their communities. We can do an analysis and see where we are as well. Mr. Barenie added he does not believe that work will be done until mid-September but wanted to mention it since it is a topic of interest right now.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he certainly does not have a problem with R-2 in Three Springs but does have an issue with the duplexes. He added he would like to see the study when it comes out and is trying to think of an appropriate motion to make. Mr. Jorgensen, “I guess that would be a motion to defer. Well, it’s not to grant it.”
Mr. Forbes stated there was a motion to defer on the table and asked if there was a second. Hearing no second, that motion died.
Mr. Forbes asked if there was another motion regarding Three Springs-Phase 3. Mr. Hastings made a motion to approve the rezone for Phase 3 in Three Springs. Mr. Austgen clarified if that is the motion that is being considered, there is an ordinance to adopt that is the approval action. Mr. Forbes asked if that is Ordinance No. 1644. Mr. Austgen answered affirmatively. Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Hastings if his motion was to approve Ordinance No. 1644. Mr. Hastings responded, “Yes.” Mr. Forbes asked for a second to the motion. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes passed the gavel and seconded the motion. Mr. Hastings called for a vote, “All in favor signify by saying ‘Aye.’” “Aye,” Mr. Hastings. “Aye,” Mr. Forbes. “Nay,” Mr. Jorgensen. “Nay,” Mr. Barenie. The motion ended in a tie. (2/2). Ayes—two (Hastings and Forbes) and Nays—two (Barenie and Jorgensen).
Mr. Kil stated that in his twenty-five years, this is the first time this has happened to him as Town Manager. Mr. Forbes added it has happened before but not very often. Mr. Kil said there is an even number of Councilmen present, so Ms. Hernandez is the tiebreaker. Mr. Austgen added it is the Clerk-Treasurer’s call.
Ms. Hernandez voted to deny approval Ordinance 1644.
Mr. Forbes asked if another motion was needed. Mr. Austgen responded that there is still one item “hanging out there.” Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Barenie if he was interested in deferring until the results of the report were completed. Mr. Barenie responded, “No.”
Mr. Jorgensen stated he would make a motion to deny. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (3/1). Ayes—three (Jorgensen, Hastings, Barenie). Nays—one (Forbes).
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to make a donation for $1,000 to the St. John Lions Club. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil if the Council receives tickets to a table for a fundraiser. Mr. Forbes stated they will be donating them back as they always do.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he would make a motion to donate $500 and give NICK the fundraiser tickets so they can distribute them at their discretion. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to adopt Resolution 2017-07-27A. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he wanted to give some information about what R-1, R-2, and R-3 looks like for St. John compared to all of the neighboring communities. R-1 is 20,000 square feet for St. John. He stated Dyer and Cedar Lake are the next largest at 15,000 square feet for R-1. Schererville and Crown Point are at 10,000 square feet. R-2 is 15,000 square feet for St. John. He stated the next highest is Dyer at 12,000 square feet. He stated St. John’s R-3 is 10,000 to 20,000 square feet. He stated Dyer is the next highest at 16,000 square feet. He stated even when things are zoned R-2 like in Three Springs, it is still a “pretty darn big lot”.
Audience Member One: “That’s why I moved here.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “I get you.”
Audience Member Two: “I am on a 200 by 100 foot lot. I moved from Schererville because I was looking at my neighbor’s deck, and I wanted a wider lot. That is why I moved to St. John.”
Mr. Jorgensen: “Yep and Schererville is 10,000. I mean, we are double.”
Audience Member One: “We don’t want to be compared to that.”
Audience Member Two: “We don’t want to compared to anyone else. We want to be by ourselves.”
Mr. Jorgensen responded, “Oh, we are by ourselves, man. We are by ourselves. And, we are big. But, just so everybody understands exactly what those differences are even with 15,000. So, with that...”
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions or concerns. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to authorize the lease. Mr. Hastings seconded. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Kil also stated he had another item. Mr. O’Day owned all of the property south of Homestead Acres Park on the south side of Town. He retains ownership of about a five-acre lot that lies on the south side of Bull Run Ditch, adjacent to Homestead Acres Park. Mr. Kil stated Mr. O’Day desires the Town to take ownership of the property for the sum of $2,000, which will cover his taxes. Mr. Kil stated the Town has the sanitary sewer and a portion of the bike trail that runs through the property. For these reasons, Mr. Kil stated he recommends the Town acquire the property. He stated if a motion is made, he and Mr. Austgen could begin working on arrangements and effectuate the transfer.
Mr. Forbes stated if there were no questions, he would entertain a motion. “So moved,” by Mr. Hastings. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Kil stated the final meeting for the Road Impact Fee is on August 7, 2017. That committee will first make a recommendation to the Plan Commission and then the Town Council. It is anticipated the Plan Commission can have a public hearing in September, which would put the action, by the Town Council, at the September 28th meeting. By statue, a public hearing must be held in front of the Plan Commission. Mr. Kil said what the Council authorized is nearing an end.
Mutual Aid was a busy month. There were calls from Schererville, Cedar Lake, Lowell, Crown Point, and Merrillville. St. John Fire EMS was requested to provide assistance for 28 separate instances, including structural fires, residential medical emergencies, and motor vehicle crashes. The ladder truck went through a lightning strike to provide access to work on a road. There were a total of 181 responses.
The Monday night activities included an EMS in-service which was a review in recognizing and treating emergencies. This was a very timely and informative refresher course for all members of the Fire Department. Also covered was emergencies involving geriatric patients and we received hands-on review of the monitor and practicing skills. They had a fire training that was a walk-thru of the facility. The fire EMS was the primary responder. St. John has a 24/7 relationship with Lake Hills so all fire related emergencies go to St. John. Chief Willman stated at least once a year and sometimes twice a year, we have a joint visit to that facility to see any changes that may have been made, but mostly to stay mentally aware. Chief Willman stated the last fire training was for search and rescue. They did exercises in full turn out gear.
The St. John Police Department issued 307 traffic citations issued with 183 written warnings for a total of 490 traffic citations being written during the month of June 2017.
Vehicle thefts totaled $87,000 of loss and other thefts totaled $7,365 of loss. Recovered property was $8,600.
Chief Kveton stated he wanted to follow up on a couple of questions from Public Comments at the last meeting. He stated one was concerns for speeding on Joliet Street. He mentioned they had received a complaint for speeding on Joliet Street a couple months back, and they had been running traffic detail there on a daily basis totaling 36.25 hours of traffic enforcement on regular shift. Those traffic enforcements resulted in 101 traffic citations, 90 for speeding and 100 warning citations, of which 81 were for speeding.
Another concern that was brought up at the last Town Council meeting was the implementation of a Quiet Zone throughout Town on both the CSX railroad and the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which cuts through the Town just east of the Town Hall and crosses over each other just north of 93rd Ave. Chief Kveton stated he contacted Lindsay from the Federal Railroad Association. A Quiet Zone specialist named Inga had him work with the Region 4 Coordinator, who is Tammy Wagner. The information provided last month that the railroads would do this for free was completely incorrect. In a basic rural setting, where there would be no infrastructure or software necessary to upgrade, one single railroad crossing would start out at $6,000 to $10,000 just to initiate the process. Once the process was initiated, the infrastructure requirements needed to install gates at a crossing would be a minimum of $200,000 per crossing. He said this would not include the interconnecting software that would be required especially for a situation like St. John where the two railroads cross each other just north of the Town Hall. To institute a Quiet Zone in St. John, just for the installation of the gates and flashers, not counting the circuitry needs on the tracks themselves, and the possible median barriers and land acquisition would be a multi-million dollar endeavor that would be at the direct cost of the Town. Going forward, the Town would have to pay a certain amount of maintenance to the railroad to keep up all of those crossings. It is not anywhere near a cheap or free endeavor.
Chief Kveton stated as of today, they are 20 sworn officers strong.
Mr. Austgen stated that he and Mr. Kil have been working for a couple of years on the Norfolk Southern Crossing at 85th. In addition to everything the Chief said, the backend documents required by the railroad would require the Town to indemnify the railroad from anything that happens in relationship to the improvements, events, and circumstances occurring at the Quiet Zone crossing. He stated it is incredibly prohibitive.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Kil stated they did pay the $10,000 just to get them to hold a meeting with the Town. He stated Tammy Wagner came out, and they had a field meeting with Schererville.
They are trying to do a joint project with Schererville right now, but the Town cannot sign an agreement that indemnifies a railroad. If someone gets hit there, and the railroad is indemnified, it is just not feasible for the Town.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes added another hang up was a light on the back of the building in the event power goes out at the intersection. Mr. Kil agreed that there has to be a light to identify to the engineer that power is out so he knows he must blow the horn.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the bills. “So Moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays --- none.
Mr. Jorgensen asked the Council what they wanted to do as far as St. John Baseball is concerned. Mr. Forbes stated he would prefer to make it an agenda item for an official record of the motion next month.
(The meeting adjourned at 9:14 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes ---four. Nays ---none.
Congressman Visclosky said what is most troubling, from 1970-2015, the number of school age children in Lake County, Porter County, and Michigan City has declined by approximately 74,000 students. He stated many of the young people, whether it be apprenticeships, military service, or traditional school, do not see where the economic future of jobs are in Northwest Indiana because this area continues to lose people.
Congressman Visclosky stated all of the people in the room tonight understand the importance of steel and oil industry, which are the foundations of the economy in Northwest Indiana. He stated a year ago, he testified seven times before the International Trade Commission on behalf of steel, and he already testified twice this year. Congressman Visclosky said he works every day for the industry. He stated if the industry were wildly successful next year, there would probably be a few less people employed in that industry in Northwest Indiana because they will be a bit more productive next year to stay in that international competition; it is not a job growth industry. He mentioned that people live in Northwest Indiana because you can make money here. It is the same reason a century ago people like Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan invested in oil and steel in Northwest Indiana. In the 50s and 60s, people invested in the interstate system. They invested in creating National Steel and Bethlehem Steel in Porter County. He questioned over the last half century, where were the transformational investments in Northwest Indiana to grow jobs and to grow the economy. He respectfully suggested that they have been absent.
Congressman Visclosky said he believes it is imperative to make an investment in our future and the next generation’s future by improving the existing South Shore service as well as expanding the service to Lowell and Valparaiso. This will create a system to grow our economy and to better connect to the Metropolitan area in the city of Chicago. He stated the average job in Chicago pays about 37 percent more than the average job in Northwest Indiana. The GDP of the City of Chicago is larger than Sweden’s. If Chicago was an independent nation, it would have the 20th largest DDP on the planet Earth. He stated he does not apologize for trying to get more people to that great city- state for employment opportunities, investment opportunities, cultural and sports opportunities. Congressman Visclosky added if the South Shore is done correctly, with the expansion and improvement, given housing affordability, favorable tax climate, great school systems, we will see that economy come to Northwest Indiana and the population and job picture will begin to grow.
Congressman Visclosky stated a system needs to be built to improve the existing line and expand it. He said he realizes not everyone who lives in St. John works in St. John and everyone who works in St. John does not live in St. John. He stated people need to be provided with the regional economic opportunities so everyone, collectively, in Northwest Indiana can grow.
Congressman Visclosky stated the last time testimony was presented to the Board regarding the South Shore was in 2014. He stated he appreciated the Board’s consideration then, and he appreciated the numerous meetings that have continued to take place as the Board studies the wisest investments of the tax dollars of their Town. He mentioned he would like to take the opportunity to update the Board on what has transpired. Double tracking is the improvement of the existing line, and it would take an investment of about $290 million dollars with no new taxes. Represented in that is a return of half of that money in terms of federal dollars that is sent to Washington, D.C. each year, but cannot be receive back unless there is a match. Since 2014, Michigan City, St. Joseph County, LaPorte County, the Regional Development Authority, Congressman Visclosky’s local colleagues in the Indiana General Assembly, as well as Governor Holcomb made a commitment on behalf of the State of Indiana to make improvements on that existing line. He stated travel times can be reduced and have greater frequency of travel on that line. He asked the Board to think about what the economy in our region looks like. Instead of 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Chicago from Michigan City, it is about 60 minutes to 70 minutes and there are more trains. This economy is primed to grow.
Congressman Visclosky stated he also wanted to talk tonight about the expansion. He mentioned a question was raised in 2014 as to what were the characteristics of the ultimate expansion would look like. He said a number of stations would be added from Hammond to Dyer. Stations would include two in the City of Hammond, one in the community of Munster, as well as one on the Munster/Dyer line. There would also be a maintenance facility that would be constructed in the City of Hammond. There would be a layover facility constructed in the City of Hammond. The project, in this instance, is about 615 million dollars of investment. He wanted to emphasize no new taxes and half of it being paid with a return of federal tax dollars if the non-federal match can be generated. He stated over the intervening years there has been a commitment by the Regional Development Authority, leadership by the local General Assembly State Delegation, and former Governor Pence signing into law a State Commitment for the extension. He added including Lake County, there are 20 jurisdictions to participate as far as the local commitment. To date, there are 16 of those 20 counties, cities, and towns that have agreed to participate as far as the issuance of financing. Congressman Visclosky stated he is here tonight to ask for St. John’s consideration in joining that group. He wanted to point out that in St. John’s Comprehensive Plan, released in January, it indicated the value of the expansion of the service, as well as its continued extension south. He expressed “now” is the time to make a financial commitment to this transformational process in Northwest Indiana by dedicating a percentage of the CEDIT tax to help the endeavor. He mentioned he is not here to say what that percentage should be, but added it should be something everyone is comfortable with since it is a fixed and permanent obligation during the issuance of those bonds.
Congressman Visclosky added there is urgency in his request. The first money spent on the expansion was in the early 1990s. For the sake of the economy today, for the sake of growing jobs today, the transit district that runs the South Shore needs to show when the transit district that runs the South Shore applies for those federal monies next month that we have a level of participation in financing that strengthens the application. He said the Board’s positive judgement on this issue would certainly help improve the strength of that application that will be filed with the federal government next month. He reiterated his appreciation for the time given to him this evening and added that he would be delighted to entertain any questions.
Mr. Barenie asked if part of the CEDIT tax was committed to the project, would the money go to the expansion or the new portion. Congressman Visclosky answered the money would go to the expansion. He stated there are two separate applications that the Transit Authority will file. The monies discussed this evening, as far as St. John’s commitment, would be to the expansion.
Mr. Forbes stated the project ends in Dyer and asked when the second half that includes St. John would be contemplated. Congressman Visclosky answered he cannot give a timeframe, but would suggest the first order of business is having the application approved and having the train extended to Dyer. He stated he always likes to be conservative on his timelines and one thing that has not changed is the belief that construction could be completed to the point in Dyer by 2023. At that point in time, he believes there will be a renewal of population growth in our economy. Congressman Visclosky added that he is not trying to be fastidious but when the first tie is laid, he believes someone will ask why it is not going to Valparaiso and to Lowell. He added because it has to get to Dyer first. He said there is no guarantee, but it is everyone’s true belief that the numbers that support this project, if evidence of local financing and commitment can be shown, will work for the federal application.
Mr. Forbes asked if the application was being presented next month. Congressman Visclosky stated it was being presented next month by NICD, the authority that runs the South Shore. They will be asking for a project rating that gets them in the line to receive a full funding agreement from the federal government. They will simultaneously be filing two applications, one for the expansion discussed this evening and secondly, for the double tracking to increase the number of trains to reduce travel times. Congressman Visclosky again wanted to emphasize building a system to grow the economy and jobs. He stated if the system is done right, given NWI’s location to Chicago, Lake Michigan, the freight lines, and the four interstates in the county, Northwest Indiana will be the next economic engine for the State. He added given that Governor Pence, in the General Assembly, recognized the importance of the expansion, and Governor Holcomb recognized it for the double tracking is an indication the State understands this is a great investment and money well spent.
Mr. Kil stated if St. John joins along with the other 16 communities that takes care of the first leg to Dyer. He asked Congressman Visclosky if he would have to go back around to secure funding for the second application for the expansion south. Congressman Visclosky confirmed the funding now is only for the expansion to Dyer. He stated that they would need to see the characteristics of the expansion, what the dollars are, and what funds are available at the next point. At that point, it will be either self-evident it is working or not. He added that St. John is going to help other communities with their expansion and growing the economy in Northwest Indiana. If they do have to go back to local communities, the other communities will be much more inclined to help St. John because St. John helped them.
Mr. Jorgensen asked what some of the percentages of the CEDIT funds other communities have pledged. Congressman Visclosky stated he had a list and would be happy to share it with each one of the members. He stated it can be faxed to their offices tomorrow but it ranges from 34 percent to 1 percent.
Mr. Austgen asked if the method of joinder was by way of the Interlocal Agreement and the resolution to be adopted here. He asked if it was the same as all of the other communities. Congressman Visclosky answered it is the same for all of them, and it has to be something everyone is comfortable with because it will be binding.
Mr. Forbes stated he appreciated the information and thanked the Congressman for coming tonight, but since one council member is not present, he would like to hear what he has to say. He added they would have to mull it over for a month and get input from the residents as well.
Whereas, Childhood Cancer remains the Number 1 disease related killer of kids in the United States. One in Five suffer life-altering impacts of treatment that significantly alter their quality of life. 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20; and
Whereas, Childhood Cancer is on the rise. Childhood cancers and adult cancers are different, yet we continue to use the downsized adult cancer protocols on kids with many times devastating effects. The lack of childhood cancer research has tremendous impact to kids and significant costs to society, now and in the future; and
Whereas, despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded. Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s Budget is solely dedicated to childhood cancer research. In 25 years the FDA has initially approved only two drugs for any childhood cancer and half of all chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old; and
Whereas, the incidence of childhood cancer is on the rise with an estimated 15,700 children diagnosed every year (43 per day) in the United States alone. Of those 43 children per day, 8 will die and somewhere in the world a child in diagnosed every 2 minutes; and
Whereas, many adult cancers can be diagnosed early, in 80% of kids, cancer has already spread to other areas of the body by the time it is diagnosed; and
Whereas, the causes of most childhood cancers are unknown and at the present, childhood cancer cannot be prevented, and families who are or have been in treatment work tirelessly to change these alarming statistics.
Now Therefore, I do hereby proclaim the month of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and urges all citizens to observe this month by becoming aware of the tragedy of childhood cancer, supporting those who are working toward its end, and participating in community efforts.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize the proclamation. “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. It was seconded by Mr. Barenie. The motion was passed by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
John Lotton, 8310 W. 147th Avenue
Mr. Lotton stated he is the developer for The Gates of St. John, and he would like to make some comments about the proposal he has extended to the Council. The proposal is moving 77 condominium units in Pod 17 over to Pod 7B as R3 zoning.
He said there are 107 units in Pod 7B so this proposal would make it 184 units. The size requirements on these lots are 12,000 square feet with varying lot sizes but an 80- foot minimum width.
Mr. Lotton mentioned that currently Pod 17 is zoned R4, and there are no restrictions for rentals. “These will be apartments. If that’s what you guys want, if that’s the way the vote goes; Pod 17 will be apartments.” He stated the only people he has talked to regarding this development are “apartment people,” and Mr. Lotton would like to see that go away. He stated President Forbes has asked him to come up with something to make it go away, so this is what he is proposing.
Mr. Lotton added it is fine if the Council will be voting for the apartments. He has a user who is all ready to move forward with it. He stated some of the people on the Council and in the audience believe there is a restriction on rentals; however, the rental restriction is not a valid restriction. It only applies to Units 1-15, and Unit 17 is specifically exempt in the Annexation Agreement. Mr. Lotton reiterated he just wanted to let everyone know what the reality is.
Adrian Bugariu, 11747 W. 90th Avenue
Mr. Bugariu stated he requested a copy of the letter he wrote to the Town Council in August 2012. He said he received a response today regarding the matter and it was the “typical blah, blah, blah.” He added that he is demanding the resignation of Mr. Austgen, Mr. Forbes, and Mr. Kil.
Gerry Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets stated he had three issues he wanted to bring forward tonight; first, is the South Shore train expansion. He said he does not know all of the details as far as what it would cost or all of the benefits to St. John, but using federal agreements and federal money usually has strings attached. He mentioned he would hate to see St. John dedicate long-term tax dollars from the CEDIT money without having some input from the public. He requested the Council not make decisions regarding this matter without some kind of forum to get public input.
Secondly, Mr. Swets wanted to address the replacement of the safety netting at the boys’ baseball fields. He stated it is Town property and if there are any injuries there, the Town could be held responsible and liable and the Town wants to avoid that. He added the Town received the settlement money from the insurance company for the damages done to the nets last winter and not replacing the netting right away shows gross negligence on the Town’s part. Mr. Swets said these are children and parent- volunteers who devote many hours to this program. He encouraged the Town Council to pay for the netting. Mr. Swets mentioned this is also the sentiment of the Homeowners Group as he sent out an email and received many positive responses with no negative responses.
Mr. Swets stated, finally and most importantly, he would like to speak out against the rezoning for Gates of St. John 7B. He said the request is rather vague, and the Council cannot be sure what they are actually approving. He mentioned he has no idea how the 77 units from 17 are going to fit, and this cannot be left to the Plan Commission to decide that. The Plan Commission members have already been left hanging when Attorney Muenich raised the question of the legality of moving units from one pod to another or changing the zoning. Attorney Muenich advised the necessity of a legal opinion on that. Mr. Swets added that Attorney Muenich had to recuse himself from the last meeting, and the Plan Commission did not have anyone else to gather a legal opinion from. The Plan Commission was left to decide for themselves, which they should never have to do. Mr. Swets reminded Mr. Forbes that is why an attorney is present at these meetings and told Mr. Forbes his leadership was in question once again.
Mr. Swets stated if the Council approved the rezoning tonight, it would be left to the residents of the Gates to decide if they want and can afford to take legal action against the Town. He said Indiana Code 36-7-4-6.304 states, “In consideration of rezoning, the Plan Commission and Legislative Body shall pay reasonable regard to the conservation of property values throughout the jurisdiction.” Mr. Swets mentioned even though Mr. Lotton has built some great and beautiful homes, the 180 duplexes will not hold or improve the value of the neighborhoods more than building 100 single-family homes surrounding 7B. Mr. Swets mentioned he has a petition with 80 signatures and is asking the Council to listen to what the residents are asking for. Mr. Swets requested the Council to just vote no for the rezoning.
Donald Santefort, 8695 Silver Maple Cove
Mr. Santefort stated his home is on the northern edge of the area that is proposed to be rezoned and will be directly impacted by this zoning change. He mentioned there was one change made to the proposal where homes on the south side of the pond would be left as single-family dwellings rather than townhomes. He added he believes one row of homes left out of the proposal will not significantly or adequately shelter the existing homeowners from the negative impact of the rezoning to townhomes. He said whatever homes are built on those lots would be facing the proposed townhomes in their front yard and asked what kind of homes will be built on those lots. He answered that they would not be homes likes his on the other side of the pond, and they would already be depreciated. There would be lower value homes on those single lots. Mr. Santefort stated he purchased his lot and built his home with the expectation the development would be built of primarily high quality single-family homes-not high-density townhomes.
He asked the Council to please not approve the zone change. He said he attended the Plan Commission meeting last month where Mr. Lotton stated that this was not his idea, and he was being pressured by Mr. Forbes to change the condominiums or apartments as they are now being called. Mr. Santefort stated they could be left as apartments because he does not care. He added that it seems the terms are changing from when the original subdivision was approved and asked the Council to leave it as it originally existed and to deny the proposal.
John Reidelbach, 10420 Silver Maple Drive
Mr. Reidelbach stated he would like to echo the sentiments of Mr. Santefort. He stated he lives just a couple of doors down from him. He said when he chose his lot in January 2007, he wanted it to be as close to Sterling Gate as possible because Sterling Gate was going to be large upscale homes. This would allow his home to appreciate with those larger style homes. Based on the new proposal, the number of upscale homes is being significantly reduced and being replaced with duplexes that will have much less value. Mr. Reidelbach stated he would like to recommend the Town Council reject the proposal for rezoning in the Gates of St. John.
Rita Berg, 10351 Joliet Street
Ms. Berg stated she agreed with Mr. Swets and everything he said. She said she just had one addition regarding the traffic issue. She mentioned the more homes that are added means more cars on the road, and Joliet Street is already becoming a nightmare along with 231. She requested the Council to consider this and not approve more homes.
Dennis DeVito, 10341 Silver Maple Drive
Mr. DeVito stated he has a piece of property exactly opposite the pond in question in Wisteria Gates. He said they are new residents and moved into Town in January. He mentioned one of the first pieces of mail he received was a memo stating the property he just purchased was going to change considerably because of a rezoning effort. He stated it is amazing that 10 years of preapproved static zoning laws can be changed so quickly and when so many people depend on those laws.
Mr. DeVito said he is concerned about the legal content and the process this is taking. He stated he is also aware of the issue with the attorney. He added, because of his purchase, he has access to the agreement in that area, and the agreement says there must be approval by the homeowners. He mentioned he does not understand the legality in the declaration and the Plan Commission’s obligation, but there was no notice of a meeting for the residents. He stated he is not aware of where to go for help, but it clearly says there must be a homeowners meeting to decide changes of this nature.
Mr. DeVito stated the characteristics of the neighborhood are changing, and it’s a substantial loss in property value. He added it is deceptive to people who are directed to the area because of what the Gates was supposed to be. He said, at this point, he does not know who wants the change or why, but he knows it is not good for his property or his neighbors’ property who all had confidence in what was approved 10 years ago. He stated he recommends the Town Council does not approve the change in zoning.
Kalli Salas, 10688 Fairview Place
Ms. Salas stated she is not here tonight in regards to the annexation or the proposed change but rather she is here for the safety of her children and neighborhood. She mentioned there has been much more traffic through her subdivision, which is Silverleaf. She added she is a new resident as of January, and they have been fighting for some time with their Homeowner’s Association, as well as the builder Oltoff Homes for stop signs. She stated she has two children, who she brought with today, and they have already almost been hit a couple of times by vehicles going upwards of speeds 60- 70 miles per hour. She said she has called the St. John Police Station and has called Lake County and both said they could not help her, so she is here today to ask that something be done and for some kind of assistance. She mentioned she knows Oltoff Homes has had some issues in the past and asked the Council to not provide them with any more occupancy permits until they get stop signs up in their neighborhood. She stated it is very sad that her children were almost killed just a couple of weeks ago, and she would hate it to have that on anyone’s heart that a child could potentially be injured.
Mr. Forbes asked if Chief Kveton has been contacted. Ms. Salas stated he has been contacted and has been provided a petition from her neighborhood with 50 signatures from the homeowners. She added that Chief Kveton contacted one of her neighbors that started the petition with her.
Ms. Salas said they have had to put out a personal vehicle to somewhat slow down the vehicles coming through 107th and Fairview Place. She added that the police came and they were told to move the vehicle or they would be ticketed. She reiterated her request for something to be done and for the Council to assist in this request.
Mr. Forbes stated they are discussing stop signs in another subdivision so they will add this to the topic.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak stated he has so many items to discuss, but since the Council has limited Public Comment to three minutes per meeting and meetings have been reduced to one per month, residents have to choose which topics they want to discuss.
He said the Gates Unit 7B rezoning seems to be a real problem for the following reasons. During the Plan Commission meeting about 7B when the developer took the podium, Mr. Muenich, the Plan Commission attorney, got up and left the room. He stated the obvious reason for this behavior was he has a conflict of interest with the developer and he probably worked on the Gates Annexation Agreement. Mr. Blazak added it is also a concern that the Town attorney might have conflict of interest with the developer as well. Mr. Blazak asked who was going to give the residents a legal opinion. Mr. Muenich sat in a meeting and stated a legal opinion should be rendered, and, to this date, there has been no legal opinion. He added that in previous Plan Commission meetings, Mr. Muenich stated trading between pods would probably not be allowed under the original Annexation Agreement. However, with no legal opinion, the residents do not know what to expect.
Mr. Blazak stated the 7B rezoning plat does not contain any lot measurements or dimensions at least that anyone has seen. He questioned how is it possible for the developer to do whatever he wants and the Town Council gets to vote on a specific plat plan that does not yet exist. He said the rezoning question could not be legal by any ordinance or even common sense. He asked if residents of St. John should expect this type of behavior from elected officials and expect free rein for developers to do whatever they desire. He stated the 10-year Town plan sets multi-unit building at around eight percent. He added it is already 18 percent by August 2017 to date. He mentioned year-to-date last year was 35 percent and in 2015, it was 40 percent. Mr. Blazak said since certain members of the Council have been in charge for the past 14 years on and off, the multi-units built in St. John exceed 27 percent of everything built. He asked how 27 percent multi-units match a 10-year comprehensive plan goal of 8 percent. It does not even get close.
Mr. Blazak stated he wanted to discuss the Road Impact Committee. He said the last meeting was supposed to be the final vote on the new fee, but instead builders and developers showed up and started to complain. He mentioned they said they knew nothing about the fee. Mr. Blazak stated they knew as much as he did because he attended every meeting. He added the stalling tactics have to stop. He stated St. John residents are losing valuable time and road dollars by stalling a vote on this issue. He said builders do not need more time. The residents need road money.
Kathy Wilson, 9621 E. Oakridge Drive
Ms. Wilson stated she is not going to make a specific comment on the rezoning of the Gates but mentioned she agrees with all of the previous comments. She said she has heard several comments regarding the Board starting to listen to the comments being made and they are starting to look more into what some of the requests are. The Board is asking more questions of the developers as far as why they need these variances.
She said she wanted to mention this because all of these variances are setting a precedence and other builders are coming in and saying the Council did it for other builders so we should get the same decision.
Ms. Wilson mentioned she was at the meeting regarding the sign changes at the Lake Central High School. She said she knows there were a lot of questions regarding the size, color, and font, and she is probably the only one in St. John who has a problem seeing that sign. She stated whether she is going north or south, she is already at the entrance before she can see the sign because the trees are blocking the view.
Ms. Wilson stated, at the last meeting, there were variance concerns regarding Rose Garden. She said both the builder and several residents spoke about the wet soil and that building on that area was not advisable. She mentioned there are also other residents, not near Rose Garden, that had the same issue with water inching closer and closer to their yards. She added that she does not know all of the issues involved but wonders with all of the development and retention ponds and sewers, why not all of this water is draining properly.
Ms. Wilson stated Mr. Blazak just mentioned the Impact Fee. She said she knows there is a current ordinance for an Impact Fee. She asked if it was being enforced and where the monies were going. Mr. Forbes stated there is no road impact fee. Ms. Wilson stated there is an impact fee. Mr. Forbes stated it was for parks.
Ms. Wilson said in regards to the woman with the kids who almost got hit by a speeding vehicle, the residents have mentioned this so many times, but it is her belief that stop signs do not work. The vehicles blow through them. Ms. Wilson suggested looking into putting in a couple of speed bumps or something along those lines.
Cory Criaser, 12416 Wicker Avenue
Mr. Criaser stated he is not here for the Gates of St. John proposal but for a current legal matter with the Town of St. John. The Town is suing him over a years old ambulance bill. He stated he wanted to come and show himself. Mr. Craiser questioned why the Town is dragging him through the mud and making him go to court multiple times a year and miss job opportunities over a few hundred dollar old ambulance bill. He asked what the point was. He stated he is a person with a job, a little baby girl, a son who is nine years old, and a wife and family. He said he is being dragged to court multiple times a year and the Town of St. John does not need his couple hundred dollars. He mentioned he has made multiple reasonable offers for settlement. He added Cedar Lake accepted his offer for settlement so he is unsure why the Town of St. John keeps denying his offers for settlement that are very reasonable.
He reiterated that he wanted to make himself known, make his case known to all of the Council members so they can look into it, and hopefully accept the settlement he made last week in court to one of Mr. Austgen’s subordinates. He said the few hundred-dollar difference is nothing to a Town but months of sacrificing for him and his family.
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive
Mr. Hero stated he would like to conduct a straw poll tonight. He asked how many people do not want the rezoning for the Gates. Several audience members raised their hands. He asked how many want the rezoning for the Gates. One audience member raised his hand. Mr. Hero said the voters are facing the Council tonight and the Council has to decide the direction they will go in. Will they go with the voters or go with some other mysterious force. He mentioned the residents do not want the rezoning and the place is packed. He added everyone here says no rezoning and asked how many times the residents have to do this. He stated if it cannot be resolved at the Plan Commission and if Mr. Volk is sick then to appoint a new person. Mr. Hero reiterated if Mr. Volk could not serve, then to appoint someone else. He added the Council has control of that.
Mr. Hero stated they heard the Honorable Pete Visclosky begging the Council for CEDIT money for the trains. Mr. Hero added someone else is getting rich on the trains. He mentioned it is going to be the border territory, a half mile on each side of the tracks. Mr. Hero suggested the Council looks at what that would do for the tax money there.
He asked if it was going to go to the RDA. He stated the double track is to benefit the South Bend airport, and to not be “hoodwinked” by more politicians trying to “pick your pocket.” He said St. John will get nothing out of it and added people can take the car for a 20 minute drive and catch the train in East Chicago. Mr. Hero stated to forget the train because it is another shell game.
Mr. Hero mentioned rezoning is about property values and somebody gains and somebody loses. He stated when you go for a rezoning to a more dense population; the people who were there first, detrimentally rely on the original zoning.
Mr. Hero asked Mr. Austgen if his firm had a conflict of interest in representing the Gates or those parties in this. Mr. Austgen answered that he did not have a conflict. Mr. Hero replied that was good to hear but he has heard many people insinuate there are some conflicts as far as Mr. Austgen is concerned or people who work for him. Mr. Hero did not know what the truth and was glad Mr. Austgen answered that question.
Mr. Hero stated to look at who makes up the Impact Fee Board: real estate people and builders. He stated the “common man,” who cannot get anywhere because the roads were not expanded by the Plan Commission as the developments came through, is left out.
Mr. Forbes, “Your time is up.”
Mr. Hero said it shows poor management of everything in this Town from traffic to zoning to the future.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets stated the annexation of this property for the designed use could be beneficial for the Town. He said another high school would benefit the Town when potential businesses review the Town’s profile to determine if it is a good place to expand and move to. He added St. John can become an even better destination for businesses. The Town would not have to depend on TIF districts as an incentive for people or use a million dollars of TIF money to construct stop lights and intersections on 96th and 41. Mr. Swets mentioned he would like to support the annexation because he thinks it would be a good addition to St. John.
Mr. Austgen stated he could explain that. He said when the annexation was proposed to the Town, his law firm was in conflict with the Town. At that time, the Town obtained Attorney Muenich as special counsel to represent the Town in the course of negotiating, preparing, submitting, and prosecuting with the negotiations of the developer and his attorney for presentation to the Town Council. Mr. Austgen added they could not be on both sides. He stated if he answers a question, or renders an opinion than a conflict “may” arise. However, as he sits here today he does not have one.
Mr. Forbes stated this was when the ordinance was originally presented in 2004 or 2005. Mr. Ausgten stated that was correct and when the annexation initiative commenced and was prosecuted through ordinance adoption and land use approvals.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if there was a legal discrepancy between what Mr. Lotton is proposing in the revised Annexation Agreement. Mr. Austgen stated he could not answer that; he does not know. He added the reason he does not know is that he did not look at it because of this circumstance.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if he was going to look at it or if there was a conflict there. Mr. Austgen stated if he goes into opinion mode on that public document…by the way, all of this stuff is in the public record, and it is secured, copied, and Building Administrator Rick Eberly has been provided a copy. Mr. Austgen added the record is complete from Lake County. It is about 700 pages of record and about 130 pages are substantive with exhibits attached. It is a complex project.
Mr. Jorgensen stated they did not get a recommendation from the Plan Commission, so there is obviously an issue somewhere. Mr. Forbes responded that Mr. Volk was, unfortunately, absent and not to read anything into no recommendation from the Plan Commission.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if the Council needed another legal opinion on whether or not what is being proposed is going to be legal. Mr. Forbes stated he did not think so; it is common practice and what they have done all along. Mr. Jorgensen stated they cannot say common practice and that is what we have always done because common practice can be wrong for a long time. He added what he is concerned about is whether or not there was an actual issue brought up at the Plan Commission meeting and then that issue was not resolved with regard to the legality of what is proposed today. Hearing no response, Mr. Jorgensen asked again, “Was there?” Mr. Forbes responded, “I didn’t take it that way; no.”
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil if he had any comments. Mr. Kil responded that the Council has an ordinance in front of them, and he does not have anything else to weigh in on. He said there is no recommendation from the Plan Commission because of a tie vote since there was an even number of people present. He stated it is at their discretion; as far as he is concerned, every zone change is at the Town Council’s discretion. He added the Council is either going to approve it, deny it, or defer it.
Mr. Jorgensen responded, “Okay, well, all of that discussion and this discussion makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up because it means that something goofy is going on.” Mr. Jorgensen stated he either gets a straight answer or he does not. The Council is obviously not going to get it from the Plan Commission because Mr. Volk was not there.
Mr. Forbes asked if he wanted to defer. Mr. Jorgensen responded that at the very least they need to defer. He stated he would not shut it down, but he is clearly misinformed about what the discrepancy is and feels certain he can figure it out once he is given the facts.
Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to defer. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (3/0). Ayes—three. Nays—one (Barenie).
Mr. Jorgensen said, “That ladies and gentlemen is a punt. Just in case anyone wanted to know what the deferral was.”
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1660. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Austgen interjected and wanted to make sure it was understood this was an ordinance brought up by the police department administration regarding document fees and updating with Indiana Code. He reiterated it is directly code related. Mr. Forbes asked if everyone understood that. Hearing no additional questions or comments, Mr. Forbes said there was a motion and a second on the floor. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes questioned if the variance was for an outside run area. Mr. Hastings answered that the Town has an animal run that was put up by Public Works. Mr. Kil intervened and said the animal run would be for during the day when the animals need to be let out at Coyne. He stated it would sit behind the building, and it is typical of every veterinarian. Mr. Kil added they have a beautiful operation in Crown Point, and Coyne is basically going to mirror that operation, but on a smaller scale in St. John. He mentioned the building is going to look beautiful, and it would be a good addition to the Town.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any other questions. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to approve the special exemption for Coyne Veterinary Services and incorporate the finding of facts. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes stated it was also presented to the Park Board because it is their parks. They signed off on the lease agreement on Tuesday night.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the lease agreement. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to approve the lease agreement and authorize Town Council President to execute. “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays— none.
(General discussion ensued.)
Secondly, Ms. Hernandez announced the first reading of the budget for Public Hearing will be held at the September 28th meeting. She stated adoption will be at the October 26th meeting.
Additionally, Ms. Hernandez stated she wanted to piggyback on Kalli Salas’s comments this evening. She said she lives in the Gates across from Crown Point Christian. Two days ago, her kids were getting on the bus, and the parents [from Crown Point Christian] were whipping down the street and tried to pass the bus, which was at a complete stop. The car almost hit her kids and her neighbor’s kids. Ms. Hernandez added that speeding is an issue and alarming to everyone in the neighborhood. She mentioned that her neighborhood would be grateful to get the previously mentioned speed limit signs in the Gates. Ms. Hernandez mentioned she did put a phone call into the principal with no return call. She reiterated that the speeding it is out of control. Today, cars were cutting off the bus in the roundabout circle.
Mr. Forbes stated they need special enforcement out there. He then stated that he and Chief Kveton have been talking about the signs in the Gates and apparently all the signs in the Gates are custom signs, and they are the responsibility of Mr. Lotton to provide them, so they are working with him to get the signs so they can be put up.
Ms. Hernandez stated, on her street alone, they have at least one Town-issued sign. She added they had at least two speed limit signs on Bridlewood that were definitely Town issued because Mikey [Schilling] went out there and put them up.
Mr. Forbes reiterated he is talking with Chief Kveton to try to get it done. He knows the signs are a formal enforcement of the speed limit, but people still do not pay attention.
Ms. Hernandez responded that she understands, but this has been an ongoing issue for years. Mr. Forbes stated it is in every subdivision, and, unfortunately, and in most cases, it is often the people who live in the subdivision. He acknowledged there is an exception here because of the school and a lot of people from different areas come to the school. He acknowledged that compounds the problems. Mr. Forbes requested Chief Kveton to put this area on his list for special detail. Ms. Hernandez stated it would definitely be appreciated.
The St. John Police Department issued 295 traffic citations issued with 209 written warnings for a total of 504 traffic citations being written during the month of July 2017.
There were no thefts for the month of July but recovered property totaled $783.
Over the past couple of weeks, St. John had two burglaries at liquor store establishments in Town. He stated this was a crime-wave that started in Matoon, Illinois. They continued their crime spree through Algonquin, Arlington Heights, Elmhurst, Bensenville, Dyer, and then St. John. Those two individuals were captured after another chance from Wisconsin into Chicago two days ago. He stated those offenders are now in custody.
St. John also had two incidents of railroad involved collisions in the past couple of weeks. One of which was a stolen car that was intentionally left on the railroad track to divert law enforcement and police efforts while the individual stole another car. The second incident was right here next to the Town Hall where an individual drove into the side of a train that was already occupying the crossing.
St. John has several speed and traffic enforcement details going including Joliet and Fairview. They are also working on traffic studies with Town Manager Kil. There is very little data for the Fairview and 107th subdivision, but the speeds are coming back very low. The average speed-reading is 22 mph.
Mr. Kil added they are also doing a traffic speed study on Joliet Street.
During the month of July 2017, the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 149 responses for emergency. Mutual aid was to Crown Point, Cedar Lake, Schererville, and Dyer.
There were three trainings. Two were for fire training, and they tested all of the remaining hoses that needed to be done. They used the hose testing incidents to also reach the right pressure on the hose, etc. They had one EMS training reviewing the proper procedures for effective triage operations in an incident with multiple casualties.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the bills. Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to pay the bills. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:22 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Mr. Jorgensen stated he believed the Town sought a legal opinion from Barnes and Thornburg because there was a conflict with the current attorney related to this request. Mr. Kil answered that was accurate. Mr. Jorgensen asked if the legal opinion from Barnes and Thornburg has come in yet. Mr. Kil replied that Attorney Nicolas Kyle from Barnes and Thornburg is preparing that information. Attorney Kyle indicated he would not have it prepared for tonight’s meeting, but should have it prepared before the next Town Council meeting in October.
Mr. Jorgensen stated since the Town does not have that legal opinion regarding the appropriateness of “Item C” being on the agenda, he would like to make a motion to defer until after the legal opinion is ready. At that time, “Item C” can be properly placed on the agenda. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he is aware many individuals came to speak tonight regarding the Gates issue which was just deferred. He apologized and said they do not have the legal opinion to properly consider the request. He said he hopes all of the people who came regarding the Gates issue will show up again when and if it is on the agenda properly. He apologized for wasting their time.
Adrian Bugariu, 11747 West 90th Avenue
Mr. Bugariu stated he has been a resident in St. John, Indiana for 41 years, and he has never had a problem requesting information from the Clerk’s office. He said a lady in red from Ms. Hernandez’s office came out and was “nasty” to him. He said Mr. Turturillo was behind the lady talking on the phone, and he knew there was going to be trouble. Mr. Bugariu stated Chief Kveton came over to the Clerk’s office with two police officers to tell him he has disorderly conduct. He said he has never had any trouble with any St. John administration in the past.
Mr. Bugariu added that when leaving Ms. Sury’s office, prior Clerk-Treasurer, he got to the end of the building and was arrested. He said he spent eleven days in jail and did not see the judge until the 11th day. He stated he had to go to Mississippi for three months so Fryzel and the gang can break into his house. [Unintelligible]
Mr. Bugariu said he went to the office for information, and he was not creating a disturbance; he does not want to be accused or intimidated. The Chief of Police came with two officers, and he was accused of disorderly conduct. He stated, “No more Beth; I think it’s time for you people to get out.”
Gerald Swets 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets welcomed Mr. Volk back from his absence. He then stated the majority of his comments were going to be about The Gates of St. John rezone, which was deferred.
Mr. Swets said he also had a comment or question regarding last month’s presentation about South Shore train. He mentioned he did not see it on tonight’s agenda. He said he is assuming the Town Council decided not to commit to 30 years of tax revenue, and if that is the case, he thanks them for that decision.
Paul Schultz, 10103 99th
Mr. Schultz stated he came to speak regarding the Gates and did not have any further comments.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak stated Mr. Jorgensen took care of topic number one, but he still has a few things that come to mind since he has some time left.
First, addressing Mr. Kil, Mr. Blazak stated the Town needs to start pushing the impact fee item. It has been dragged on and on. He understands the Council is caught in the middle. But, the meetings often end early because so and so has to leave and before you know it, things are not getting accomplished at the impact fee meeting. He said it is a “bunch of garbage.” A meeting is held once a month and then the members cannot make it or leave early so nothing gets voted on. He added that thousands and thousands of dollars are being lost in impact fees. If the impact fee is $2,000 a unit, $432,000 is lost through building permits issued this year. That is $432,000 that could have been used to help St. John with its programs. Instead, the item keeps getting pushed to the next meeting. He mentioned it is going to be October and this is still not approved. It has already been six months and they would still have to wait for the ordinance to kick in. He addressed Mr. Kil and stated he knows he is not in the best position but something needs to be done to get this accomplished.
Kathy Wilson 9621 East Oakridge Drive
Ms. Wilson stated she had a couple of comments. She said this has been said a million times with the constant variances and changes, but the Town needs to stop changing all of the ordinances and giving variances for extra building.
Ms. Wilson said she believes Mr. Swets made a comment regarding the South Shore train. She stated she does not see how that would be any benefit to St. John or neighboring areas. She believes the money could be invested into crossing gates for the railroads instead.
Finally, Ms. Wilson stated she agrees with Mr. Blazak on the impact fees and where they are going.
Kathy Ballard 9728 Hart Street
Ms. Ballard stated she came to ask about the railroad crossings. She said she has called a few times and spoken with Council members and received different answers—it was going to be taken care of and how expensive it was going to be. She called other towns that have railroad crossings and quiet zones and those towns stated it costs ten thousand dollars. “Yes, they do. It’s been in the Hammond Times, so don’t tell me no. Do not tell me no. Don’t even think about it. It was in the Hammond Times in Highland on 45th. When they did it, it was ten thousand dollars, so don’t tell me no.”
Ms. Ballard expressed that she lives in Three Springs and would like to know when it is going to be done. She knows the trains were there before they built just like the Racetrack on Route 30 was there before those people built. She stated but the trains flash their horns all day and night. She questioned that if there is something that can be done by making it a silent crossing, then why does the Council not do it. She said other people have come here and complained, so she does not understand why it has not been done. Ms. Ballard said she has been in Three Springs for four years, and it has not been done. She stated she just wants to know when it is going to get done. She told the Council they would get votes for when they run for office next time. She said if the Council does not get it done, they will not get votes from her neighborhood. She asked them if it would be nice to get voted in again. She said she would gladly vote for them if they could make the railroad crossing a quiet zone.
Mr. Volk addressed Ms. Ballard and informed her it was going to be incorporated into the Boyer project. Ms. Ballard replied that it was not done. Mr. Volk answered that the project was lagging, but that is where the money is going to come from to complete the quiet zone.
Mr. Kil interceded and stated the Chief of Police has done a lot of work and would be the one in the best position to comment since he did all of the research. He stated the Chief checked into the details so when questions arose, he would be in the proper position to answer them. Ms. Ballard further questioned why it was just being looked into now when it should have been done four years ago. Mr. Forbes clarified that the Chief confirmed what the Council members already knew and actually reported this information at the last Council meeting.
Mr. Forbes stated the Town is currently waiting on a quiet crossing at Bingo Lake Road. It is currently tied up in Alabama on some lawyer’s desk waiting for approval to put a light in a little silver building, so the Town can complete the quiet zone process. He stated the Town does not have any control over it. Mr. Forbes further explained they have discussed other quiet crossings. He also stated that it costs $250,000 per crossing to make them quiet crossings. Ms. Ballard asked why it was only $10,000 in Highland. Mr. Forbes answered that $10,000 is probably the cost of the application. He elaborated that there are road improvements that need to be done to make it a quiet crossing that cost more than $10,000. Mr. Forbes asked if the $250,000 price tag for a quiet crossing was accurate.
Chief Kveton answered that at a railroad crossing where there are no interconnects or software updates that need to be done, it is about $250,000. He elaborated that based on the railroad crossings in St. John with the interconnects where the two railroads cross each other just north on 93rd, it would cost closer to $500,000 per crossing. He said it is a multi-million dollar endeavor to have a quiet zone put there. He said Ms. Ballard is probably not aware what the $10,000 is for since she read it in the newspaper. He stated the railroads will come out to talk to the Town for $10,000 to discuss how the quiet zone can be implemented.
Chief Kveton elaborated that there are all kinds of different things that have to go into it. He stated he can talk for two hours on this topic, and Ms. Ballard is welcome to talk to him after the meeting. He added the circuitry for a railroad is done two different ways. One way is called constant warning time, and constant warning time has to be at every crossing to even be considered for a quiet zone crossing. Constant warning time can determine the speed of the train so the gates will only go down within 60 seconds of the train arriving. This has to be done at all crossings before it can even be considered for a quiet zone crossing.
Chief Kveton mentioned gates also need to be at every crossing that is considered for a quiet zone. He said a quiet zone cannot exist without gates at every crossing. He stated to go from a flashing crossing to a gated crossing will cost a minimum of $250,000. He added it is much more involved that he believes Ms. Ballard is aware of. He further said he understands Ms. Ballard’s misinformation because a lot is stated in newspapers and said between individuals, but it is quite more complex and expensive than she realizes.
Ms. Ballard asked if the Town was looking into the quiet zone. Chief Kveton answered that he has looked into it and has reported on the cost, but he cannot report on if the funds exist.
Mr. Austgen stated knowing the cost and having a contract are two very different things. He mentioned Mr. Forbes’ earlier comment about a contract sitting in corporate headquarters is very accurate. He said they are still waiting on that part of the process to be addressed, primarily because the railroads lay all liability and exposure to injury claims or damages upon the Town. He added it is an incredibly one-sided contract and St. John has given them a response, and they have been waiting a very long time for a response back.
Mr. Kil stated they have actually being waiting years. He said the railroad says if a train derails a mile away, they want to hold the Town personally responsible for a train derailment. He mentioned the Town, obviously, could not agree to that. He added it is not as simple as one would think. The delineators that go down the middle of the road are probably $10,000. The paperwork and the red tape with the CSX is just exhausting. He said it is not that the Town does not want quiet zones. He does not think anyone at the table does not want them, but implementation of them is another thing.
Mr. Kil stated the Town decided to start with the railroad at 85th because the circuitry and gates already existed there. He said the railroad wanted $10,000 to install a little light, which is a power out indicator, meaning if the power goes out at the crossing; the light will flash and tell the engineer he needs to blow his horn because obviously the power is lost at the crossing. He stated that is all that the Town is waiting for at that crossing and it has almost been two years. He understands not too many people like train whistles. It is not that they are not attempting moving toward quiet zones. He said in Highland, there are more urban crossings, and St. John has what is considered rural crossings. “It is a whole different animal. The circuitry is not in them.”
Mr. Forbes said the Council is not opposed to the idea, but it is a tedious project. Ms. Ballard thanked the members for the clarification.
Ms. Hernandez stated that completes the Public Record portion, but she was asked to enter into the official record that she received several remonstrances relative to the rezoning of Gates Pod 7B.
The following individuals provided written remonstrances:
Joe Milcarek, Tina Milcarek, Scott Stessl, Julie Stessl, Adam Eisensee, Sara Eisensee, Don Piper, Julie Piper, Mary Therese Robert, John Homelaka, Barb Homelaka, Rich Diebel, Barb Diebel, Bryzan Blazak, David Layman, Angie Layman, and Theresa Birlson
Mr. Jorgensen stated the Council would keep the remonstrances until the item comes back on the agenda.
Mr. Kil stated the Town did advertise high, like they do every year, to make sure St. John can take advantage of the maximum levy.
He added that in this budget, there is a new police officer. There is also a three percent employee raise. There is also another budgeted transfer from the General Fund to the Rainy Day Fund, which is used to fund the local match of the Community Crossing Grant which St. John was just awarded. He said further information would be given regarding the grant later in the meeting. Mr. Kil concluded that these items were some of the highlights.
Mr. Kil wanted to give some background on the Town. He said St. John has a tax rate collection of about 98.4 percent, which is fantastic. St. John has the lowest tax rate in Lake County and is only slightly behind Winfield. He stated the tax rate is 50 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Mr. Kil also stated St. John has the highest median income in the county. St. John also has the highest home values in Lake County. The assessed value is now $1,053,000,000. He said that Indiana does not give any credit for sales tax so the growth of the Town actually lowers the tax rate. The higher the assessed value goes, the lower the tax rate goes. This is the reason many communities like economic development and growth, especially commercial, because it raises the assessed value of the community without having to supply any services. He stated if anyone has any specific questions, he would be happy to answer them.
Mr. Kil added he worked on the advertised budget with Ms. Hernandez. He said Ms. Hernandez is in the second year of the job as Clerk-Treasurer and is really doing an excellent job. He stated it is not the simplest thing to get right away, as the State of Indiana requires an 18-month budget.
Mr. Kil stated the General Fund started with a budget of roughly $4,143,000. At the end of August, it was $4,252,000. He concluded that St. John is not only staying on budget, but the revenue is exceeding expectations. He said he would have the details, along with Ms. Hernandez. The year-end financial report will be available in January of next year. He stated St. John can easily employ another police officer and the reserves look good. He said St. John may spend down a little cash, but it will be for a local match for the community that is going into roadwork.
Mr. Forbes asked if Ms. Hernandez had anything to add to Mr. Kil’s comments. Ms. Hernandez added the Town is not greatly impacted by the circuit breaker like other communities so that is another positive. Other than that, Mr. Kil covered everything.
Mr. Kil asked Mr. Cender to provide a quick lesson on the tax cap because he saw a lot of residents were not familiar with it.
Mr. Cender stated the General Assembly adopted the tax cap, meaning residential homeowners will not pay more than one percent of the gross assessed value. Rental properties will not pay more than two percent and all other tax payers and businesses will not pay more than three percent. Lake County and St. Joseph County have a lot of outstanding debt and putting that outstanding debt in the tax cap would have been a big burden. So, that outstanding debt has been exempted from the tax cap for Lake and St. Joseph counties.
As Ms. Hernandez indicated, the circuit breaker impacts St. John so very little that most taxpayers are paying a regular corporate rate around 50 cents. He stated he did not have the information in front of him, but it was under $2.00. Homeowners pay the lesser amount—the one percent of the gross assessed value or the net assessed value times the net rate. He said the majority of tax payers in St. John are not even impacted.
Mr. Kil stated homeowners can look at their gross assessed value when they receive their tax statements. By law, homeowners cannot pay more than the gross assessed value. St. John’s assessed value keeps growing so their tax rate keeps lowering. He believes St. John’s circuit breaker impact is $7,000. Other communities are well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, meaning homeowners are reaching the tax cap and exceeding it. St. John has the luxury of not having that problem.
Mr. Cender clarified that in other areas in Lake County—Gary, East Chicago, Hammond, the impact is very high, and they have to cut back on their expenditures and services. St. John is able to provide all of the services and even add another police officer for next year.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets stated he is not sure if his print outs are the same as the members on the Council, but when he looked over the report, on page 10, the Town Council lists $428,000 for PERF. He said he knows Ms. Hernandez, the Clerk-Treasurer is involved with PERF on page one, line five, but he was wondering if the Town Council members were also included in the PERF. Mr. Kil answered that, he, as Town Manager was included in PERF under the Town Council budget, along with the Administrative Assistant. He said it is not the Council, but that budget covers the staff as well. There is no PERF in the budget for the Town Council. Mr. Swets stated if the Council takes care of the motion that is hanging, they will be all set.
Mr. Swets stated he had a few more comments. He understands it is difficult to budget for other things. Mr. Austgen has held meetings along with Mr. Muenich and sometimes you need both of them and sometimes there is a need to hire others for internal investigations, lawsuits, but he believes it needs to be managed a little bit better.
There is a need for more money to repair and rebuild the roads and that needs to be included in the budget. The impact fee keeps getting dragged on and on and on. The development plans per ordinances are not being implemented. Road studies need to be completed prior to development. Until all of that is under control, the Town will continue fighting an uphill battle with traffic and traffic jams will continue to get gridlocked. He believes for the Town to look at spending a million dollars on a signal intersection at 96th and Wicker Avenue and to have all the revenue brought back into TIF will not benefit the Town or schools. It is not proper fiscal management.
Mark Kumicich, 9220 Ruth Court
Mr. Kumicich stated the Council educated him earlier on tax caps and circuit breakers and he appreciates the information. He is trying to get educated here as a citizen and stated his understanding of payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) are tax payments to local government to offset property taxes through non-taxable federal lands. He asked what that expense was for. Mr. Kil answered that payment in lieu of taxes is actually not even close to what Mr. Kumicich just stated. Mr. Kumicich responded that is what the federal government says it is.
Mr. Kil replied, in Indiana PILT is a little different. Payment in lieu of taxes refers to when Municipal Utilities were first established decades ago. Municipal Utilities are tax exempt, so all of a sudden, the Utilities were generating a lot of money and owning a lot of water treatment plants, water towers, etc., but not paying taxes because they were government owned. So, what the Utilities are allowed to do is make a payment in lieu of taxes. Instead of paying a tax bill, the Utilities can make a cash payment to the Town to the General Fund. Mr. Kil added it is just a fancy way to transfer money from the Utilities to the General Fund. That is where “payment in lieu of taxes” comes from. Mr. Kumicich asked if PILT is listed as an expense in the budget. He further questioned who the Town is making a payment to.
Mr. Kil clarified that the Town is making a payment to itself. Mr. Kil confirmed that the Town pays itself and transfers from the Utilities to the General Fund. He explained it is pulled from the right pocket and put in the left. He said that is what PILT means. Mr. Kil told him to think of the Town like a pair of pants with a hundred pockets and you pull from one and put it in the other.
Mr. Kumicich asked if the Council could explain the group insurance. He stated he was looking at the different group insurance rates versus the different budgets. He added the police budget is $213,000 in wages and the insurance is $75,000, which is one-third a person’s wages. He said when you compare that to the Clerk-Treasurer’s budget, which is only $40,000 in wages and $21,000 in insurance, which is 50 percent of the cost for a person’s wages.
Mr. Kil explained that the group insurance is the group health insurance. He said it was for all full-time employees. He said he would use himself as an example. As Town Manager, he deals with the sewer, water, public works, and every department in the Town. His salary and his insurance is split amongst all of those pockets in the pants. He elaborated that he is pulled out of every budget. He said the Police Department is only pulled out of the General Fund and the Fire Department is pulled solely out of the General Fund. Mr. Kil added that his insurance and his pay is located in approximately six different budgets. The Police Department, by law, can only be located in one budget. For the Public Works employees, they are paid from MVH, which is Motor Vehicle Highway, Water Utility, Sewer Utility, Water District and Sewer District. He said they are split five ways. There is one group policy and every employee pays 20 percent of whatever premium he or she chooses—family, husband/wife, single, etc. The Town pays 80 percent, and the employees pay 20 percent.
Mr. Kumicich asked if the Town used all of the street salt from last year’s budget. Mr. Kil replied, “Not even close.” Mr. Kumicich then asked if the budget went down from last year. Mr. Kil replied no because the Town does not know what kind of winter we are going to have. He said the Town is required to buy 80 percent of what they contract for.
Mr. Kil added the Town goes with the State bid, and every July or August, he sits with the Public Works Director to discuss how much salt to order. He said they usually contract for 3,000 tons, and they are obligated to buy 80 percent of that. He stated that is the reason the salt barn is full right now.
Mr. Kumicich asked who pays for the storage of the salt. Mr. Kil answered it is on Town property and is stored in the salt barn. Mr. Kumicich asked if it would be possible to pay for the salt, but have them retain it for the Town if it was not being used and have it shipped when needed. Mr. Kil stated the Town pays upon receipt of semi-loads. He added that 3,000 tons sounds like a lot, but it is really not. He stated in bad winters, the Town is only guaranteed 20 percent more than they contract for.
Mr. Kumicich asked if they could store the salt so it would not be a burden to the Town. Mr. Kil said it is stored in the salt barn and they are considering buying another one, but he has not discussed it with the Town Council yet. Mr. Kumicich said if they have a couple of good winters in a row, it will be a lot of salt to store. Mr. Kil said it gets delivered all winter long. When it gets low, they put in another order.
Mr. Kumicich asked if residents could look at the Town’s contracts. Mr. Kil replied yes and to come on in to the Clerk’s office.
Mr. Kil elaborated that they are giving the bidders the option to submit alternate bids. St. John currently has a one day pick-up, and as the Town grows, it will reach a certain number of households that will require a need for a two day pick-up. It is part of the growing pains. Otherwise, the trucks will be here from 5:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. In the proposal, there is an option for a two-day pick-up and a one-day pick-up. He stated there is a lot of latitude, and it will bring the largest number of bidders and give the Council more options to consider. Mr. Kil strongly suggests the Town should request bids. He has received calls in the past and only received one bid. Waste Management has said they are “back in the game” and are definitely willing to bid the project. Illiana Recycling and Allied Waste are the current carriers, and they are definitely interested in rebidding the projects. Mr. Kil stated he is looking for some competitive pricing that is going to lower the rate. He said they are getting an early start and have plenty of time.
In the event the Town has another company that is a low bidder, they will require time to purchase the garbage cans for the Town.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to authorize bidding of the Town’s Refuse and Recycling bidding. “I’ll make a motion to authorize the bidding,” by Mr. Jorgegnsen. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was passed by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes stated the other part of the conversation is that this is the end of the construction season, and there are two roads involved in the grant—Parrish Avenue and 101st. He stated only one road will be able to be completed because of the constraints. He said asphalt cannot be put down when it is too cold or half the life would be cut from the road. He stated Parrish will be the greater portion of the project and he does not believe it would be completed in a timely manner. He asked if the members were okay with completing 101st road work first for this season and start work on Parrish in the spring. The Council members were in agreement.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the Community Crossing Grant and proceed with the project as described. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Jorgensen.
Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes— four. Nays—none.
The St. John Police Department issued 306 traffic citations issued with 200 written warnings for a total of 506 traffic citations being written during the month of August 2017.
St. John suffered $105,000 of loss after reports taken. There were two very high-end vehicles that were taken, but the vehicles were recovered so it is also a recovery.
Chief Kveton wanted to respond to a couple of questions the police department received over the past month. One has been an ongoing concern in The Gates regarding speed limit signs and a couple of additional signs around the Crown Point Christian School. This was something that was in agreement with the developer when the development was originally designed. He has been in touch with Town Manager Kil who contacted the developer. The signs have been ordered so should be put up shortly.
At this time of the year with school starting, the biggest complaint is traffic concerns of speeding, stop signs, and things of that nature throughout the community. They have been working hard over the year at addressing these concerns whether it be the Huron Lake subdivision, The Gates, along 101st, or along White Oak. There are several locations where they receive regular complaints. Kveton has done a comparison of 2016 and 2017 and the efforts by the officers have increased traffic enforcement throughout the community 153.4 percent. Comparing August 2016 to August 2017, there has been a 225 percent increase in self-initiated activity by our officers.
Another concern by a citizen or two was that St. John was not properly allocating the manpower. For example, they were spending more time on Wicker instead of Joliet. They conducted a study on all traffic enforcement in the community. It is important to allocate their resources in the places that are most needed. The best way to compare traffic needs to resource allocation is where we have the biggest problems, the most traffic, the most accidents. The resource allocation study found 4.2 percent of our efforts are on Joliet Street and 51 percent of our efforts are on Wicker. If we look back at the concerns and the problems and the traffic amount and accidents, we find Joliet Street only accounts for 0.7 percent of the accidents. We are spending 4.2 percent of our time there which is quite a bit larger than the issues we are seeing there. On Wicker, we are seeing 62.3 percent of our accidents, and we are only spending 51 percent of our time there. We are also spending a lot of time in the subdivisions around the schools and the neighborhoods. Chief Kveton said he has a study that shows the pie graphs and also made it available to the media so they can take a look. He stated he thinks the resource allocation is appropriate to the level it needs to be in the different areas. He added when the department gets a complaint from a resident about a certain subdivision or street, they do put manpower there.
Chief Kveton mentioned the department also came up with another way of judging the speed limits and the amount of traffic. About a year ago, the HOA in the Lake Hills subdivision asked the department about pole mounted speed signs. They wanted to purchase 6 of them if department would install them. He spoke with Manager Kil who said Public Works could do that. However, they never came up with the money to purchase the signs, but it was a very good idea that he has used in other applications. About 3 months ago, Chief Kveton stated he received an email from Ms. Hernandez with a picture of the speed sign they were considering using for Lake Hills. The department purchased one of the signs and installed it on Joliet right away. It is an insignificant sign—only two feet by two feet, but it does a tremendous amount of work— whether it is on or off, showing the speeds or not, it counts every car that goes by and tells how fast it is going and provides all kinds of data.
Chief Kveton explained that speed limits are based on something called the 85th percentile. When you look at Joliet Street, both east bound and west bound, the 85th percentile for East bound is 31 miles per hour and that is counting over 100,000 vehicles in 18 days. The 85th percentile for east bound is 31 miles per hour and the 85th percentile for west bound is 36 miles per hour. He stated we are right on point with the speed limit there. The study shows they are getting about 3,338 vehicles east bound per day and just under 3,000 vehicles West bound every day on Joliet Street. He stated they had 20,559 vehicles going west bound traveling under 30 miles per hour. In the other direction, there were 46,233 vehicles under 30 miles per hour. He concluded there will always be vehicles going over the speed limit, and they do their best to place officers in the places they need to be. It is important to keep the streets as safe as possible especially during this time of year with school in session. They put as many officers as they can around the schools. Based on the studies they have done, the department is hoping they can get a couple more signs, so they can be used throughout the community to judge whether there is a problem or not.
Mr. Kil suggested the Town buys a couple more signs. He stated if authorized tonight, they could take the funds out of the Public Safety Fund 249 for two additional speed signs. He said it is a fantastic tool. He suggested, perhaps, they place one sign on White Oak and one on Patterson—the main “drags”. The signs cost about $3,000 each; they are very reasonable and very effective.
Mr. Forbes added that if the signs are put up in the right locations, you can find the person doing “60 miles per hour,” and you could probably figure out when they are doing it, where they are going, and when they are going to be there. If they are willing to go that fast one time, you know they are going that fast at other times.
Chief Kveton stated he made an interesting observation in his unmarked vehicle. He said he parked on Joliet for about an hour and backed up into someone’s driveway, almost all the way to their house, so no one would knew he was there. The vehicles that were going east bound, as they were approaching the sign, even the ones going over the speed limit, did not hit their brakes. He said he was in a position to see their brake lights, and they were not hitting their brakes. Those individuals are distracted and so focused on what they are doing. He concluded that the data is very good data.
Mr. Kil stated he believes people appreciate seeing it. He has gotten emails from residents thanking the Town Council for the speed signs.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen asked how many speed signs were needed. Chief Kveton believed two additional signs would provide three in total, which would allow them to be moved around to different areas of need.
Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to purchase two additional speed signs. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was passed by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Kil stated it would come from Fund 249, and they have a cash balance of roughly $202,000 in that account.
Chief Kveton thanked the Council for all of their considerations for an extra officer for next year because it will really benefit the department.
Mr. Forbes stated Chief Kveton mentioned the signs in the Gates but wanted to know the status of the signs in Silverleaf. Chief Kveton said a citizen came up at the last meeting and was concerned about 107th and Fairview. He said a representative from Olthof Homes approached him after the meeting and signs were installed the next morning. Silverleaf is done and the Gates is on order.
Ms. Hernandez clarified Public Works has already installed signs on 106th so those signs are up in the Gates. Mr. Kil stated he believed the signs were supposed to be installed closer to the school. Ms. Hernandez stated 106th is the “dragstrip” leading to the school.
Monday night activities for the Fire Department for August 2017 included the business meeting for the month. The next week was another session of testing fire hoses and rescue equipment that needs to be exercised periodically. They reviewed the standard operating procedures for some of the equipment used less often than the rest. The last two Mondays were spent at the training site. One of the evenings a joint training was held with Lake Hills. St. John Firefighters got to review the procedures required to set up a dump tank which is used to provide water to unincorporated areas that are not protected with municipal water services like fire hydrants. The Lake Hills Fire Department set up the tower three times from start to finish to review those procedures in case they would need to help St. John in an event. St. John does not have a tanker or a dump tank. We support each other on all areas of mutual aid.
Mr. Forbes asked Chief Willman if Sunday was the Open House. Chief Willman confirmed the Open House was Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and they look forward to a beautiful day with nice weather and a good crowd.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the bills. “I’ll make a motion to pay the bills,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:12 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets stated he would like to briefly address the rezoning of the Gates in 7B and the legal opinion. He said the entire development is a PUD, so therefore, in order to approve the rezoning of a PUD, certain requirements must be met including traffic studies, elevations, landscapes, lot sizes and buildings. He said all of these requirements are outlined in the ordinance and all of them have not been met. He stated question five on page three of the legal opinion requires any changes to the development to also require a change in the declaration of conveyance. He continued 5A states that Article 12 states that, “Any revocation, modification, amendment, or supplement to conveyance set forth in the declaration would require unanimous consent of all owners until the year 2020 and three-quarters of the owners after that.” The result of a change, if the Council approves, would require any owner in the development, the right to sue the developer, which is exactly what Mr. Muenich stated in his earlier opinion. Mr. Swets hopes the Council would not force any constituents in the Town to file a lawsuit because of their action.
Ben Ybarra, 10366 Redwood Drive
Mr. Ybarra stated he would like to reiterate everything the previous gentleman said. He added he is here tonight to support taking a second look at the rezoning. He said he does not understand why the rezoning is on the agenda, but on behalf of his neighbors, he is here to support the effort to resist the rezoning because he does not want to see this happen.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak said he gets to come up here every month with the citizens of the Town to question when the Council is going to stop rezoning and allowing duplexes, town homes, and multi-units being built all over St. John. He stated for the last 14 years per the electronic records he was able to track down, the Town is around 27 percent multi- units. He stressed it was unacceptable by the Comprehensive Plan. He said the people of St. John do not want smaller lots than R-1 like in the neighboring towns of Schererville and Dyer. He added every month the Council insists on coming to these meetings and “playing games with rezoning.” He emphasized that the people are against it. “Look at the traffic mess you have. You drive these roads every day. You know it, and if you say there isn’t a traffic mess in this town, then you are sadly mistaken.” He encouraged the Council members to get on the app “Nextdoor” and read what the citizens have to say regarding this. He added the citizens are getting really aggravated and stated, “You are going to pay the price when you run for office again if you keep this up.”
Dennis DiVito, 103401 Silver Maple
Mr. DiVito stated his property is adjacent to the property that is being rezoned. He said he mentioned this to the Plan Commission and he understands how difficult the job is but he moved into the community with the full confidence of what the previous Board had done. When he signed his papers, everything was in place for the property of 7B to be Sterling Court. Ten years later he finds out the “settled zoning” is up in the air again, and his property is at risk because of a change in the characteristic of the neighborhood. He added since he is someone who will be directly impacted by this, he is encouraging the Council to not approve the zoning change.
Ms. Hernandez stated that completes the Public Record portion, but she was asked to enter into the official record that she received several remonstrances relative to the rezoning of Gates Pod 7B.
The following individuals gave remonstrances:
Joe Milcarek, Tina Milcarek, Scott Stessl, Julie Stessl, Adam Eisensee, Sara Eisensee, Don Piper, Julie Piper, Mary Therese Robert, John Homelaka, Barb Homelaka, Rich Diebel, Barb Diebel, Bryzan Blazak, David Layman, Angie Layman, Theresa Birlson, and Mark Kleeblatt.
Mr. Forbes stated the Public Hearing for the 2018 Municipal Budget was held at the last Town Council meeting. Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the budget.
The members did not have any questions, but Mr. Kil stated he had a request. State Board of Accounts, because of the Gateway system, is requiring this ordinance to be split into three separate ordinances, one for the Sanitary District, one for the Waterworks District, and one for the Civil Town. He asked the Council if they would consider adopting this ordinance, and also two additional ordinance numbers for the Sanitary District and Waterworks District. He continued they were all properly noticed and part of the Public Hearing. He said nobody comments on the Sanitary District or Waterworks budgets because any concerns normally lie with the Civil Town. Mr. Kil reiterated that SBOA would like these to be separate ordinance numbers in order to submit them into the Gateway system. Mr. Kil asked Mr. Austgen if he had any objection to this.
Mr. Austgen stated it is a single ordinance by way of introduction and first reading approval. He continued that if they were to be bifurcated, his suggestion is for the ordinance to be 1661A, B, and C, sequentially tied together with the same ordinance number as it was introduced. Mr. Austgen said the Town is on deadline to complete this budget tonight. Mr. Kil confirmed A, B and C is feasible; as long as there was a different digit, it would be fine.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen stated he would make a motion to adopt Ordinance 1661A as the Civil, Ordinance 1661B as Sanitary, and Ordinance 1661C as Waterworks District. Mr. Forbes stated there was a motion and asked for a second. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—five. Nays—none.
Mr. Austgen asked Mr. Kil if they needed ratification or a second reading since they have been broken out. Mr. Kil answered that they did first reading on the entire budget at the last meeting and all they did was break it down for adoption.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen suggest the Council complete a second reading.
Mr. Austgen stated, “Motion to confirm adoption of 1661A, B and C.” “So moved,” by Mr. Jorgensen. The motion was seconded by Mr. Barenie to confirm the adoption of the three segregated budgets. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—all. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes stated Mr. Lotton asked to speak. Mr. Lotton said he is here to answer any questions the members may have. He also wanted to make a comment concerning the values of the real estate. As a developer, the goal is to raise the value of the real estate owned. He added a “good day” is when the value goes up. He said he owns property all throughout the Gates and is looking to eliminate the constant comments that he is trying to devalue property. He added that would go against his own best interests since he is the largest property owner in the Gates. He said it makes no sense to him. He would think the duplex units fit the housing in St. John better than the apartments do. He concluded that at this point it is up to the Council members.
Mr. Forbes stated for clarification purposes, he made some statements to individuals. He wanted to verify them. He said when Mr. Lotton first presented the plan to the Town, the condos were not part of the plan. Mr. Lotton stated they were not. Mr. Forbes continued that an adjustment was made after speaking with members of the Town Council. Mr. Lotton answered that his land planner and the Town Council were trying to keep the numbers in a density that would work for him. He added that pushing that many single family homes at the time did not work because the lots were too small. He continued that the land planner presented the apartments and the Council accepted it and that is the way their development went. Mr. Lotton said he never believed that is what he would end up building. He always believed at some point, someone on the Council would approach him and say “Hey, let’s get rid of these buildings.” He said this is where they are at now. They are either going to get rid of the buildings or they are going to build them.
Mr. Forbes stated if the rezoning would go through, it would eliminate the 77 condo units in Pod 17, and relocate the same number of units into Pod 7B. Mr. Lotton confirmed that was correct. Mr. Lotton added the portion [in 7B] would not be on the water. There would be a single-family buffer between the proposed duplexes and the existing housing.
Mr. Forbes stated he wanted to clarify those points because there was a lack of accurate discussion on this topic. He said all members of the Council have received e- mails from a large number of residents. He stated when he had the opportunity to talk to the residents who sent the emails, they changed their opinion and felt the condos should be eliminated. Mr. Forbes said he has spoken to a dozen individuals and had conversations with them and most were not aware of the condo removal portion of the discussion. Mr. Forbes added he appreciated talking to the sensible individuals who took time to speak with him about the project.
Mr. Lotton said there is quite a lot of confusion because he has had people approach him suggesting that he is trying to put apartments next to Pod 7. Mr. Lotton said the goal is to get rid of rental units, not add rental units.
Mr. Forbes asked if every duplex sold has been owner occupied. Mr. Lotton confirmed that was true. Mr. Forbes added the Town cannot control second ownership, but he is not aware of any rentals in the subdivision. Mr. Lotton confirmed there are no rentals that he is aware of. He added he would not be approaching anyone looking to rent the units [in 7B]. He said he already has his builders set up, and they would be building high-end duplexes and selling them.
Mr. Forbes asked the members if they had any questions for Mr. Lotton. Mr. Jorgensen stated he just had a comment or two. He said he certainly does not have any problems with duplexes. He added his mother-in-law just build one that is expensive and just incredible in Briar. He said his issue is that over the past two months, he has received nothing but emails of people remonstrating against the rezoning. He added the Plan Commission originally accepted the proposal for the condos. He added he was not there at the time and “it is what it is.”
Mr. Jorgensen continued that he had people come up to him remonstrating against this. He said he has not heard from one person who is in favor of the rezone. He said he is left in the position of how is he supposed to vote. He added the people are reportedly living in the Gates, and they have told him they do not want the duplexes; they want the condos. He said he has not heard anything else from anyone. Mr. Volk state he agreed.
Mr. Jorgensen added there are some very vocal folks who live in the Gates saying they do not want this. He said, being an elected official, he does not feel he has a choice other than to vote no.
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Jorgensen if when he spoke with the individuals were they aware of the “condo-swap” portion of the discussion. Mr. Jorgensen stated he has not spoken to all the people who have come to the meetings and have emailed and cannot explain it to them all. He added that it is Mr. Lotton’s responsibility to do that.
Mr. Forbes stated he disagreed. As an elected official, he feels Mr. Jorgensen should have taken the time to respond to all of the emails like he did. Mr. Jorgensen stated he received the same emails as Mr. Forbes, and the people who did respond back still did not want the rezone.
Mr. Forbes said that the emails they received were only half of the discussion. He added when he did receive replies from the individuals and explained the other half of the discussion, they all changed their mind.
Mr. Jorgensen asked where the individuals were. Mr. Forbes replied they were trusting.... Mr. Jorgensen interjected and asked if there was anyone present tonight in favor of this. The audience members collectively responded no. Mr. Jorgensen said he has given it two months, and he has not gotten a single person to tell him this is something they want.
Mr. Jorgensen told Mr. Lotton that he is not saying he is against duplexes, but he disagrees with the President because he has heard nothing but negative comments about it. He said he feels it is his responsibility to vote no because that is where they are at. Mr. Jorgensen stated he is always open to both sides, but he has heard nothing but one-sided comments on this.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any additional comments and said, “I think you guys are about to set a precedent that you cannot live with.”
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion regarding Ordinance 1658. Mr. Forbes asked if anyone was going to make a motion. Mr. Hastings, “Motion to adopt Ordinance Number 1658.” Mr. Forbes asked for a second to that motion. Hearing no second, the motion fails.
Mr. Forbes said by the time the meeting ends, they would have expired the time limit to take action; therefore, the Plan Commission’s opinion of “No recommendation” would stand. Mr. Austgen confirmed that was correct and that the proposal that was applied for is defeated.
Mr. Forbes stated when the lady was standing at the podium, he told her it was not probable the Council would be able to pass a solicitor’s ordinance, but Mr. Austgen said it could be done. Mr. Austgen confirmed it could be done. He added he has looked at ordinances all over the State and has looked at the decision in the Yorktown case where they got “hammered” on their “crude” attempts to establish parameters. He said he has looked into cases and that is as far as he has gotten. Mr. Austgen stated, “I did not say we can’t have an ordinance. I said I do not have one tonight”.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to defer. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—all. Nays—none.
This way, all of the fees from the tow companies and the returns from the Clerk’s office for tow releases will be consistent across the board. Chief Kveton added if there are any problems with the tow companies not responding in a timely fashion or not treating individuals properly or charging them the right fees, the Town can hold them accountable. He further stated the Council should have copies of a tow ordinance to use a starting point and then he, Mr. Kil and the Police Commission could disseminate the request for proposal to the tow companies and “get the ball rolling” so the process can be completed.
Mr. Forbes stated, from his discussion, he understood this ordinance should be done on first reading only. He added the request for proposals can be sent out to the Police Commission and then the Town Council can take action, if they approve, at the next Council meeting.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he stated he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance 1663 on first reading only.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if Mr. Austgen had any comment regarding the ordinance. Mr. Austgen added the ordinance is about 97 percent complete and it just needs some tweaking. He also stated it should have the Police Commission input for when the regulations are established. He wanted to underscore what the Chief stated about the regulations that went back to 1988. The ordinances had pieces of changes that occurred between 1988-2004. Then, there was a complete stop in regulations and updates. He added many laws have changed. He concluded the ordinance is close to being finished.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if it is something they should adopt now or something that needs to be reconsidered and adopted later. Mr. Austgen answered the introductory reading seems appropriate, and he put that in writing, but it is the Council’s call.
Mr. Austgen said there is some organizational procedure that needs to be looked at. He added that, tonight, he asked Ms. Hernandez for information on the tow release fee fund ordinance, so that he can review that information to ensure there is no overlap with the state statute or current existing law in the Town.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if there was any other body that was going to influentially weigh in on the ordinance other than the Police Commission. Mr. Austgen replied it would only be the Police Department and his office.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if the Police Commission would be included as well. Mr. Austgen replied that Police Commission would also be included. Mr. Jorgensen suggested sending the ordinance to the Police Commission first for comment before the Town Council considers it. Mr. Austgen replied that the Town Council is not to adopt the ordinance, but to consider it. Then, it can be sent to the Police Commission for comment and then back to the Council.
“I’ll make a motion to consider Ordinance 1663,” by Mr. Jorgegnsen. Mr. Forbes stated he had a motion to consider Ordinance 1663 on first reading only. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was passed by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—all. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen stated static pricing for three years is great and stated, “I’ll make a motion to authorize contract extension for 2018.” Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—all. Nays—none.
Chief Kveton mentioned St. John had $8,550 of loss from thefts, but they also recovered $8,550 in property. He added there was a detailed and complicated investigation into cruelty to animals, which is currently pending.
Chief Kveton stated Halloween is right around the corner and his department has handed out 3,500 trick-or-treat bags with safety tips on the bags and 1,000 flyers to all of the schoolchildren in Town.
Chief Kveton said the nighttime officers continue to find garage doors wide open and asked individuals to remind their neighbors if they see an open garage door. He stated it is just inviting someone to walk in and grab something and walk away.
Chief Kveton stated over the last weekend, Saturday night into Sunday, there were nine vehicles with their windows shot out with BB guns in the Homestead Heights and Sattle Creek area. He added there was a jurisdiction to the east that was hit, so someone is out there in a vehicle. He said it is on video, and the vehicle is a silver two or four door Buick. He added it looks like a Le Saber from the video. He asked if anyone has any information or a video to share to please contact the Police Department.
Chief Kveton stated over the past year and a half, his department has been working on updating policies and making sure they are all up to date and within legal parameters. He said there are 65 Standard Operating Procedures and 41 have been updated and adopted through the Police Commission.
Chief Kveton mentioned, with the holidays approaching, the St. John Police Department and the St. John Police Association, which is a not-for-profit, are working towards some charitable events for the community to help underprivileged individuals. The “No Shave November” event begins on November 1st. He added it was a great event last year, and they raised $15,000 for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. He added Toys for Tots boxes have been put out for anybody who has toys they would like to donate. Chief Kveton added that, with the Chamber of Commerce, they will be donating their time to make food baskets for Thanksgiving for the underprivileged in Northwest Indiana. He mentioned the baskets will be delivered on Thanksgiving for the families that do not have the food needed for Thanksgiving. He concluded the events will be listed on the St. John Police Department Facebook page and the St. John Police Association Facebook page.
Chief Kveton stated all of the traffic related “things” discussed last month are being addressed. He said they have two additional [speed] signs coming, which Mr. Kil authorized the department to purchase. He said they should come in the next day or so and will be put up in the other locations where there were concerns.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen asked what the hours were for trick or treating. Chief Kveton answered the hours were 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
(General discussion ensued.)
The department’s Monday night activities for September 2017 included the first week was a night off because of the Labor Day holiday. The second week was the final evening needed to complete all of the annual requirements to test all of the fire hoses and include inventory on all of the vehicles and in the fire house. Chief Willman stated he knows he makes a big deal out of this sometimes, but other departments around St. John are spending $3,500-$5,000 per year to have the hoses tested so his department is contributing to the money saving efforts. He added the only sections that remain will be tested by full time staff during the daytime shift.
The first of a three-part EMS training or Emergency Pediatric Care (EPC), was presented to all of the medical responders available to attend. This is the first time St. John has had a certified EPC instructor on staff, and they feel very fortunate to be able to participate in these training sessions. For many years, the department has been able to include EPC as part of their EMS in-services, but this is, by far, the best program he has ever seen.
The final Monday night training was spent preparing for their annual Open House, which was held on October 1st.
Mr. Kil stated the Town’s new fire truck just came and it needs some new equipment. Mr. Kil believes it needs about $20,000 of new equipment.
Chief Willman said that is the number right now, but it might go down. He added some of the equipment can be taken off of Engine 7, but some of the items on the 35-year-old engine are 35 years old and will be retired. Chief Willman mentioned he believes the truck may still be in the factory but should be coming to St. John by tomorrow. He mentioned he has a list and they are trimming it down quite a bit from what they started with, but he is not quite sure what the exact amount will be. Chief Willman added $15,000 of equipment was included in the price of the truck.
Mr. Kil asked if the Council would authorize up to $20,000 worth of equipment that cannot be salvaged off the old truck that is 35 years old. Chief Willman added the department would not go over that, and they would probably be under that amount.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. He then stated the motion is to authorize the fire department to purchase fire equipment for the new fire truck that would not exceed $20,000. Once the equipment was purchased, Chief Willman would provide the Council with the actual bill. Mr. Kil clarified the equipment would be put on a Request to Purchase so it was all itemized. Mr. Jorgensen asked, if at a later time, the fire department would need authorization from the Council to pay for the items. Mr. Kil said it would be bought, and they will itemize it for the Council after it is purchased. Mr. Kil added if it is authorized, they are going to buy it so it can be mounted on the truck.
Mr. Forbes asked for that motion. “I’ll make that motion” by Mr. Volk. It was seconded by Mr. Hastings. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes—all. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the payment bills. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 7:48 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Mr. Scott asked what the plans were for resurfacing 101st Street between White Oak and Calumet Avenue. He added it was an embarrassment, as far as he was concerned, to know that street exists in this Town. Mr. Scott asked again if there were any plans to fix the street. Mr. Jorgensen answered, “Absolutely.” St. John received their matching grant, and it is the first thing scheduled to be completed in the spring.
Mr. Scott asked if they were going to go all winter without the street being repaired. Mr. Jorgensen replied that the Town will have to wait until the spring.
Mr. Scott stated it should have been completed three years ago. Mr. Jorgensen agreed that may be correct, but the Town did not have the money for the repairs. He stated it will cost one million dollars to resurface the road. He further added St. John has procured the matching grant this year and is happy to report it will move forward. Mr. Jorgensen said the Town wanted to move forward this fall, but they were not able to due to INDOT regulations.
Mr. Kil added the Town could not meet the INDOT regulations within this paving season. Rather than try to force it with the cold weather, it will be the first thing completed in the spring. He added it goes in conjunction with the traffic signal, which will be installed at Calumet and 101st as well.
Mr. Scott also questioned whether St. John was going to put up another 300 new homes in the next three or four years based upon the current developments. Mr. Kil replied St. John added 300 homes this year. Mr. Scott asked what the projection was for the next five years. Mr. Kil answered the projection was 300 homes a year for the next five years, totaling 1,500 homes.
Mr. Scott asked what kind of traffic studies the Town was conducting to move the traffic when all of the houses are done. He added it is getting “pretty hairy” right now and will turn into Naperville. Mr. Kil answered the Impact Fee Study was just completed which included a traffic analysis of the entire community. The engineer reported what current improvements need to be made and what future improvements need to be made.
Mr. Scott questioned if Mr. Kil was stating there should be no trouble moving all of the traffic once the 1,500 new homes are built. Mr. Kil replied he did not say there would be no problems. Mr. Jorgensen stated he does not feel all traffic problems can be eliminated when there is growth and people want to move to St. John. Mr. Scott stated he understands that because St. John is a great place to live right now, but people are not going to be able to get around. He stated coming down 101st now is just “ungodly.”
Mr. Jorgensen said if people want to live here, the Town could not stop them from moving here. He added they will make it as great as they can make it. The Town will do everything they can to make sure traffic and congestion are at a minimum. Mr. Jorgensen asked, “What else can we do?” Mr. Scott replied the Town could start to cut back on the amount of homes being built. Mr. Jorgensen inquired if Mr. Scott was asking the Town to tell private property owners they cannot build or develop. Mr. Kil added or sell their land. Mr. Jorgensen added they could not do that; that is impossible.
Mr. Scott stated the Town should not to build any more “doggy parks” and the money should be used to fix the roads because people use the roads and no one uses the “doggy parks.” Mr. Jorgensen asked if any more “doggy parks” were on the schedule. Mr. Kil answered St. John has one dog park and that is all they plan on building.
Mr. Volk asked if Public Works has checked for pot holes along 101st. Mr. Kil answered that is ongoing and it never stops. The Town knows it is going to be a rough winter.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Jorgensen added that he wished the repaving could have happened in the fall, but it cannot be risked. He added the Town could not risk a million dollar project because of the weather. Mr. Kil said INDOT did not tell the Town they were awarded the grant until so late in the year. The Council members confirmed they were not notified until the end of September.
Michael Sharp, 1314 Goldenleaf Lane, Schererville
Mr. Sharp stated he is one of the St. John firefighters. Over the last couple of months, there has been a push amongst the firefighters to try to see about the possibility of joining the Police and Firefighters Pension Fund versus the Civilian Fund. In doing that, the firefighters contacted Ms. Hernandez and got some numbers. He said the firefighters have the numbers and when it needs to be submitted by. He wanted to know if there was a time the firefighters could meet with the Council to go over some of the numbers and see where they are at.
Mr. Volk stated they do not have much information and just found out about the request tonight. Mr. Sharp stated a lot of the whirlwind happened today. Mr. Jorgensen added he believes a special meeting needs to be held in November because he believes it needs to be done in November. Ms. Hernandez confirmed November 30th is the submission deadline.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he would make a motion later in the meeting to have a special session on November 28th to deal with the pension fund. Mr. Sharp responded that was perfect and he appreciates it. He also added that if anyone needed numbers before the 28th to reach out. Mr. Jorgensen added he was sure there would be some discourse before that time, but they will be able to handle it by then.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets stated he is following up on the first item discussed and the Plan Commission since the Town Council oversees the whole business. Mr. Swets said the Town cannot keep people from moving in, but they can certainly keep the lots sizes large and keep them all R-1 and eliminate R-2 and R-3 and PUDs so the Town does not have huge density issues. He added that would certainly help some of the traffic congestion.
Mr. Swets also stated the Plan Commission gave permission to Mr. Lance to advertise again so he can get his rezoning done. He added that is going to be coming back before the Council again. Even though the Ordinance states he must wait one year, Mr. Forbes and the Plan Commission decided he can eliminate two lots and that is enough of a change. He stated it is a bad precedent. He added he hopes the Council votes it down without a lot of consideration because if they allow this one to come forward, every rezoning that is requested will keep coming around for a second and third time.
Mr. Swets stated at the last regular Plan Commission meeting he was concerned because there are no minutes that have been approved going all the way back to May: May, June, July, August, September, and October— none of the minutes for the Plan Commission have been approved. He is wondering what kind of leadership is being shown. He wonders if the Plan Commission is trying to hide something. He stated he asked Mr. Forbes about it and was told to ask the Clerk-Treasurer why minutes have not been taken, so he is asking Ms. Hernandez if she could say where the minutes were.
Ms. Hernandez replied she is shocked Mr. Forbes told Mr. Swets to ask her since she is not the recording secretary for the Plan Commission. Ms. Hernandez asked Mr. Swets, who attends most of the Plan Commission meetings, if he ever sees her sitting in this chair recording Plan Commission meetings. Mr. Swets responded, “No.” Ms. Hernandez replied that is because she does not record or transcribe the minutes of Plan Commission meetings. She added that is Mr. Forbes’ duty, as the Plan Commission President, to appoint someone to do that job.
Ms. Hernandez stated there was a Plan Commission recording secretary and some issues were identified, which she will not discuss at this time as this person is still an employee of the Town. The recording secretary went “MIA” and was no longer recording or transcribing. Seven months later, we sit with numerous months of minutes not completed. Ms. Hernandez added she finds it negligent that Mr. Forbes has not replaced that recording secretary and questions why Mr. Forbes is holding the position for her to come back at a desired time. Mr. Swets replied, “I would agree.”
Ms. Hernandez stated she receives numerous calls and emails from developers, builders, residents, and reporters requesting the minutes and it is rather “embarrassing.” Even though it is not her job to record these minutes, it is embarrassing to continue to tell the same people, repeatedly, that there are no minutes to present.
Ms. Hernandez stated she had a few people contact her after the November 1st Plan Commission meeting who told her Mr. Forbes was passing his incompetence off on her. She stated Luke Britt, who is the Public Access Counselor, was then contacted to find out his stance on the matter. Mr. Britt was informed that the Plan Commission is seven months behind, and he responded it is the President’s job to ensure the position of recording secretary is assigned and that minutes are completed timely. When asked for the specific definition for ‘timely,” he answered monthly. He wants minutes presented and approved on a monthly basis and seven months was unheard of.
Mr. Swets stated he does not want to go to Mr. Britt because every time he files a complaint, it costs the Town money. He added the Town does not need to spend extra money on things that are “not necessary.” Mr. Jorgensen replied, “Here, here.” Ms. Hernandez stated she understands but it is frustrating to have Mr. Forbes blame her for something that is essentially his job.
Mr. Volk said the meetings are recorded but asked whose duty it is to get those minutes transcribed. Mr. Kil answered that duty is not currently assigned, and hopefully the salary ordinance that gets passed tonight for 2018 will significantly better outline the duties of that position. He added hopefully that position can get “picked up” by someone and the meeting minutes can then be transcribed.
Mr. Swets stated it is just poor leadership. Mr. Volk said all the meetings are recorded. Mr. Kil confirmed all the meetings are recorded because “these guys” get recorded copies. Mr. Swets retorted that transcribed minutes are not approved, and until they are, they do not become official minutes. Mr. Kil agreed they were not approved and clarified that they are just recorded. Ms. Hernandez stated Mr. Britt does not consider recorded meetings official; they must be transcribed and they must be approved.
Mr. Jorgensen added the minutes have to be approved by the Plan Commission because it is an independent body and other than the Council’s appointment power, and everyone has his or her own opinion on that, the Council can certainly not control them.
Mr. Swets agreed but said the Council sits at the top and “all the crap runs up.” Mr. Jorgensen agreed, but only to the extent to approve, disapprove, or abstain from something when it ends up on the Council’s agenda. Besides that, what happens at the Plan Commission meetings or how they conduct them is their own affair, and that is by law. Ms. Hernandez agreed with Mr. Jorgensen’s comment and said it circles back to the question of why Mr. Forbes would claim she has anything to do with the Plan Commission. Mr. Jorgensen laughingly stated he does not have an answer for that.
Mr. Kil stated he said he was hopeful the new language in the salary ordinance regarding recording secretaries can remedy any problems or issues that existed and those can be done and transcribed in short order.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that hopefully the Council could attract some “good people” to appoint as new members. Ms. Hernandez responded that if Mr. Jorgensen is insinuating that Mr. Forbes should not be President or a member of numerous Town boards then she would certainly agree.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak stated he has two things come to mind. First of all, he wanted to thank Ms. Hernandez for filling the residents in on all the facts and what the problem is. He stated he believes the Commissions are appointed every year or at least reappear and revote on who is running the Commissions. He feels if there is a vote this January, Mr. Forbes should not be President of the Plan Commission. He thinks it is about time to have a change in management.
Mr. Blazak addressed Mr. Austgen and said like himself, he has attended every meeting of the Impact Committee. He added he believes there is going to be a public hearing next month. He asked Mr. Austgen if he would be kind enough, because calling his office will not get the answers he is looking for, to be geared up to answer questions either before, during or after the public hearing.
Mr. Blazak stated he has questions regarding what is [written] in the law. He remembers Mr. Austgen saying there has to be some coordination between the private sector and the commercial sector, and the Town can be sued by either side for not having “equality” on a building permit for a home versus a building permit for a commercial property. He added he would like Mr. Austgen to be able to tell him and the public what, if anything, can be done to change this because what is being proposed from the Impact Committee is a waste of time and money. Mr. Blazak said Mr. Austgen will have to be able to answer, legally, what the Town can and cannot do to allow the Town to be able to charge more for houses and not destroy the Town’s commercial base.
Mr. Austgen answered when they were talking about the relationship between residential and commercial; it was about a distinct fee or charge for categories of uses. Mr. Blazak replied that Mr. Austgen said the Town could get sued if they were not comparable or in agreement. Mr. Austgen said they need to be objectively identified, established, and based upon objective criteria. He added that is why the Town had Dennis Cobb do the technical study, evaluation, and match numbers or costs against his identification of the improvements required. He mentioned that it does not have anything to do with residential or commercial, but instead has to deal with the need for the fee. The fee being charged is against the property owner in a new development, a new home, or a commercial project and that is where the distinction of rates can be identified as long as they are objectively uniform and fair.
Mr. Blazak asked Mr. Austgen if he was aware of the question he was leading him towards. Mr. Austgen responded that there was a lot of question in that. Mr. Jorgensen responded that Mr. Blazak is not being very clear. Mr. Austgen stated that statute was incredibly complex. Mr. Blazak clarified by providing the following example: if he was sitting on the Committee and said, “Hey, Dave, we’d like to charge $2,500 per residence, per single family dwelling and then we want commercial to stay at the 7 percent, the $1.22 a square foot.” Mr. Jorgensen responded it was a disparity between commercial and residential. Mr. Kil interjected and stated they said it could not be done at the meeting.
Mr. Blazak responded that statement was correct and said that is why he is asking Mr. Austgen what the Town can do because $350 is not going to accomplish anything per house and it will be roughly $90,000 per year. Mr. Jorgensen stated he disagrees and feels the Town will be “all right” because, at around $500 for residential; the Town will accumulate quite a bit of money. Mr. Blazak said, “No, no, no.” Mr. Jorgensen replied, “Don’t interrupt me,” then stated they look at it every five years and the infrastructure in the Town is not going to fall apart in the first year or the second year. The Town is looking at five-year increments and collection over that period. He asked Mr. Blazak if he was correct.
Mr. Blazak responded that so far Mr. Jorgensen’s statements have been correct, although, he has yet to say anything “logical.” Mr. Jorgensen questioned what was not logical. Mr. Blazak stated he is not listening to the discussion and the fact that the Town is paying $50,000 a year to an engineering firm. He added the Town paid $260,000 up front and is paid up for the next five years. The Town has to recapture the $260,000 before the Town can make one dollar. Mr. Volk added that Mr. Blazak is right. Mr. Austgen agreed that Mr. Blazak was “exactly right.”
Mr. Kil stated he understands where Mr. Blazak is going, and if you look at the chart prepared by the consultant, the 10 percent recommendation is an estimated one million dollars over the next five years. He added if the Town backs off the $250,000 the Town would earn $750,000. He added that is what his projection was based on the current rate of growth. Mr. Kil said there are obviously “wild cards” that come up because the Town is not aware of the commercial businesses that may come up. Mr. Blazak sated that he agrees.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Kil continued that the hang-up the Committee had is not with the residential, but with the commercial. The Town has to use the same criteria for both. Mr. Blazak stated that is the same thing he just told Mr. Austgen and asked what can Mr. Austgen tell us to help the Town with that problem.
Mr. Kil stated the Town is stuck unless the law says the Town can use different criteria for residential and commercial. He then mentioned this was already asked at the Impact Meeting and this is what the members were hung up on. Mr. Blazak stated Mr. Austgen did not answer the question at the meeting and reiterated he was just asking him to be ready with an answer for the next meeting. Mr. Blazak said he was not expecting an answer tonight. Mr. Jorgensen stated that he felt the Council was being “very accommodating.”
Mr. Blazak said he is just trying to get to the bottom of this issue, and $300-$400 per house is not enough when the Town is paying $50,000 a year to the engineers. The first $50,000 per year goes to pay the engineer’s bill. So, nothing is being accomplished. He continued that 300 units times $500 is not a lot when $50,000 has to be deducted up front.
Mr. Austgen stated that it was helpful to understand what Mr. Blazak’s question was because the statute does require consultant fees be paid first. Mr. Blazak stated he was not looking for Mr. Austgen to be a “miracle worker” but to give the Town help and what legally the Town can do. He said he was looking for answers on how the Town can overcome $250,000 first, and secondly, if the Town is going to accrue that much in fees then why even bother; it is a waste of time and effort.
Mr. Austgen replied that is the worst part of the statute. Once the improvements are identified as being necessary, the cost against that using the proforma from the engineers, the Plan Commission, and ultimately the Town Council has the authority to pick a percentage. They do not have to pick 100 percent and that is where the less clear parts of the statute come into play because any number can be picked—seven percent, 10 percent, 42 percent. He added that is where there is a great deal of difficulty.
Mr. Blazak asked if he could come up with some sort of idea as to how the Town can better help the residents of St. John with this law or if they need to go to their State Representatives. Mr. Austgen said they would pluck away at the statute as it has been in the books since 1991. It has been implemented only three or four times in the State.
Mr. Kil interjected that there is a reason it’s only been implemented three or four times and told Mr. Blazak to look at this arduous process. This is the first time Mr. Kil, personally, has done this before and has learned a lot in the process. Mr. Blazak said the engineering work completed up-front was impressive. Mr. Kil said the engineering is fantastic and he now knows exactly what has to be done at every intersection; he has a drawing of it; he has a traffic count. It’s fantastic data.
Mr. Blazak said he does not have a problem with the engineering. What he has a problem with is the 81 million and the 11 million. Mr. Kil said the problem is how you get a fee that is not only fair and equitable and won’t destroy the commercial development coming into the Town, yet generate enough money to fix the roads. Mr. Blazak said that is exactly the question he posed to Mr. Austgen. Mr. Kil added the Town also does not want to get sued.
Mr. Jorgensen said the Town also does not want to get sued, so when they finish their work, it will go to the Plan Commission and then to the Town Council. He said the Town Council is certainly not going to enact something that will not make the Town money.
Mr. Blazak responded that he was just asking for Mr. Austgen’s assistance because he is not going to talk to Mr. Blazak as a “citizen” because he gets paid to do what he does. Mr. Austgen replied, “That’s not true.” Mr. Blazak stated he was asking Mr. Austgen to be ready with some solutions at the Public Hearing because he is going to come back and ask how they can better help St. John by keeping the commercial fee low enough to make commercial building interesting, and yet get the housing fee up so the Town can generate more money.
Mr. Jorgensen said, if he’s understanding correctly, Mr. Blazak’s question is can the Town have a disparity between residential and commercial. Mr. Blazak responded that his question is what can the Town do to get it [disparity] done. Mr. Jorgensen said they would be looking at a lawsuit, and it cannot be done. Mr. Blazak said he is just posing the question for Mr. Austgen as what can be done or how we can do it. Mr. Jorgensen asked if he was referring to if he needed to go petition his Representatives and Senators. Mr. Blazak asked if that is what has to be done.
Mr. Austgen stated in the documentation there was a question about the ERU that has to be looked at for objective criteria. Mr. Kil interjected that there was objective criteria and if they adjust it then they are treating the entities differently.
Mr. Jorgensen stated he believes Mr. Blazak understands but he is asking whose door he needs to knock on to change it. He said the Council could give him Mr. Aylesworth’s number. Mr. Blazak said he wants to charge $2,500 per house and stay at the $1.22 per square foot for commercial. He asked Mr. Austgen how that could be done. Mr. Jorgensen said he thinks the Council should give Mr. Blazak Mr. Aylesworth and Mr. Niemeyer’s information because what he is asking for is something the law does not allow.
Mr. Volk said a lot of the questions could not be answered last night at the Plan Commission meeting because the consultant did not show up, and they did not have much discussion. He said the consultant is supposed to be there next month and asked if Mr. Austgen could be at the study session. Mr. Blazak added the Council members were in the dark compared to himself, Mr. Kil and Mr. Austgen because they have been to every meeting. Mr. Kil said it would be helpful if Mr. Austgen was at the study session. Mr. Blazak stated it would be helpful if Mr. Austgen was prepared to know the questions he was going to ask.
(General discussion ensued.)
Scott Murphy, 8820 Patterson Street
Mr. Murphy asked if the Town was planning on putting the “Heavy Load” signs back on Patterson because there are semi-trucks and concrete trucks going down there. The Town just did the road, and it is just going to get torn up. Mr. Volk replied that he believed there was a weight limit on that road. Mr. Murphy said there is but there are not any signs up to enforce it.
Mr. Hastings added there was one sign at the end toward the north but he has not looked at it lately. Mr. Murphy said nothing is up there now. He added that the trucks go by Mr. Hastings house just like they go past his. They are avoiding 41 and they are going to tear up the road. Mr. Hastings agreed and replied that he is an advocate for the signs. Mr. Murphy stated he understands and wants to avoid having to have the road re-done again. Mr. Hastings said there are different rules and sometimes the trucks are able to off load some stuff. He added if the truck gets too heavy, it can damage roads. Mr. Murphy reiterated again that he wanted to know if the Town planned on putting the signs back up because there used to be one on Wall Street.
Mr. Volk directed the question to Chief Kveton. Mr. Murphy stated there used to be a sign right off Wall Street going north. Mr. Volk agreed and said there used to be one near 85th as well.
Chief Kveton said he received a complaint from Mr. Hastings several months ago and they have been looking at it all summer. He added they monitor this on a regular basis, and all the trucks that have been stopped were all on scheduled local deliveries for concrete or lumber from Schilling because many homes are being built back there.
They did not find any trucks not using it properly. He added he is not saying it is not happening, especially with the tremendous amount of traffic on 41 and 30 that’s backed up all the way to Munster, but they did not find any evidence of anyone not making a local delivery. Chief Kveton stated he drives down there every day and makes traffic stops when he can, and he has not found anyone not making a local delivery. Chief Kveton stated at the end of last year, Ms. Robert brought it to his attention that Schilling was cutting through Heron Lake subdivision. Apparently, they were, and once it was brought to his attention, it was immediately stopped the next day, but other than that, no other violations have been found.
Mr. Volk asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1664. Mr. Jorgensen asked if it was the same ordinance as last year. Mr. Kil answered it is plus three percent. Mr. Jorgensen added it was a cost of living increase.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if there was a change for “Mickey” Ms. Haluska. Mr. Kil confirmed her rate of pay was increased by 18 cents beyond the three percent across the board.
Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1664. “So moved” by Mr. Hastings. “Second,” by Mr. Volk. The motion was carried by voice vote (3/0). Ayes— three. Nays—none.
Mr. Jorgensen said he would make a motion to defer Ordinance No. 1662 and Ordinance No. 1663. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was passed by voice vote (3/0). Ayes—three. Nays—none.
Mr. Kil wanted to remind everyone that next month’s meeting will be December 14. He said he has been working on the 2018 meeting schedule and right now he has a special Town Council meeting tentatively scheduled for January 11. He added this was consistent with what was done in 2017 so Ms. Hernandez can get the books closed.
Since the December meeting is early because of Christmas, this is what is needed so she can close the books. He added the regular meeting would be January 25th for their regular 4th week. Mr. Kil said the Town has a lot of business to take care of—Board of Finance, ectera which will be taken care of at the second meeting.
Ms. Hernandez then stated that Mr. Forbes copied her in on an email chain yesterday, and she responded that she was looking forward to further dialogue tonight in public, so it is rather unfortunate that he was unable to make it this evening.
Regardless, she wanted to put it on public record that she, as the fiscal officer, has found it reasonable, necessary and appropriate to contract with Umbaugh and Associates, a reputable and qualified accounting firm, to ensure statutory accounting requirements are being met in this Town. Ms. Hernandez added that she could be held professionally and personally liable for accounting decisions made and will not knowingly rely on, in her opinion, substandard direction by an accounting firm, simply because Mr. Forbes tells her to do so.
Ms. Hernandez stated it is evident Mr. Forbes is not a proponent of checks and balances. He is attempting to control her office in the same way he attempts to control numerous Town boards. To the contrary, she believes there needs to be checks and balances in good government. Retaining the same attorney and accounting firm for every board and every Town department does not provide for these necessary checks and balances. Ms. Hernandez added that she do not work for Mr. Forbes. She is here to serve the residents and their best interests, and that is what she is here to do.
Ms. Hernandez explained that her office manages the finances and accounts of the Town. They make investments of Town money. They prepare the budget estimates, proposed tax rates and financial statements. Although Mr. Forbes does not participate in this work, he feels it is appropriate to attempt to dictate who her office should use to assist in the completion of those tasks. Ms. Hernandez mentioned that she has written testimony from her Chief Deputy, who is also an attorney and her accounting assistant who is also a CPA. She along with her Chief Deputy and accounting assistant were not comfortable with the professionalism and statutory direction provided to them from Cender and Company. Cender and Company works at the pleasure of the Town Council. Their allegiances lie there, not with her office.
Ms. Hernandez stated that she even received an email from the President of the Sanitary District late last night stating he is also unclear as to why her decision is an issue with Mr. Forbes. He also questions why all aspects of the Town would use the same legal and financial services as he agrees checks and balances are crucial.
Ms. Hernandez claimed it is a red flag, and should be to everybody, that Mr. Forbes feels so strongly about who her office chooses to work with to ensure statutory accounting requirements for the Town are being met. She added that Mr. Jorgensen, Mr. Volk, Mr. Hastings, and Mr. Barenie have not had any issues with her decision that she is aware of. Only Mr. Forbes.
Ms. Hernandez mentioned that because she refuses to back down on this decision, and reminded everyone that it is her neck on the line, Mr. Forbes decided to reach out to State Board of Accounts. He shared his one-sided rendition of this situation without presenting all of the facts. Ms. Hernandez added that per her legal counsel, the law allows her to enter into this contract and gives her authority to pay the bill. Ms. Hernandez stated that the continued refusal by Mr. Forbes to acknowledge and accept this raises questions as to his motivation. She realizes this is probably just another scare tactic in hopes she will back down but stated she will not when it comes to what she feel is right for the community’s tax dollars and the residents of the community.
Ms. Hernandez added that she is hopeful Mr. Forbes will halt his concerted efforts to set up roadblocks in her efforts to perform her duties as Clerk-Treasurer. And, instead, focus on the job he was elected to do and let her do the same. She stated she is more than willing to discuss this further with any members of the public that have questions or concerns. Her door is always open.
The Monday night activities included the monthly business meeting during the first week. The second week was review of proper fire pump operations, including calibrating and proper distribution of water on the fire ground, hoses, pressure nozzles, long streams, straight streams, and most importantly, distributing an adequate amount of water to extinguish the fire. The third week was a preliminary overview and introduction to the new 78-foot Quint Firetruck that has been on order for about seven months. This new vehicle will be replacing an engine that is 35 years old and will arrive with options and capabilities that will help the Fire Department serve the Town and the residents with new, more efficient, more effective, and more positive results. Finally, the last training night was a session for their ongoing series entitled EPC or Emergency Pediatric Care. Next month, they will finish the class and take a final exam covering the material that has been introduced over the last few months.
Chief Willman said he would like to say the new truck was delivered to St. John one week ago. There is a representative that is supposed to come out on Monday and Tuesday to complete training on it and should be in service within the next seven to ten days. He added it is just beautiful and he is excited and thrilled with the new truck.
St. John had zero vehicle thefts and approximately $2,847 worth of thefts. The St. John Police Department issued 319 traffic citations issued with 230 written warnings for 549 traffic citations being issued during the month of October 2017. This month would reflect a 160 percent increase in written warnings and a 281 percent increase in traffic citations being issues.
Chief Kveton said there were a couple of notable events currently going on. The St. John Police Department and the St. John Police Association, along with the Fire Department are all working with local charities to raise money for cancer research and children in need of assistance. The organization the Fire Department is working with is called N.I.C.K, which is a local charity for children’s cancer. The Police Department is working with St. Jude’s Association. He believes efforts are going pretty well so far and it is a nice, combined effort. He added they also challenged the Dyer Police Department to work with them for the highest donations. Chief Kveton stated the Department is slightly behind Dyer in “No Shave November,” so he is requesting that anyone who is willing to donate to St. Jude’s to visit their website or Facebook page in regards to that.
Chief Kveton stated they have been part of a Grant Program for the past several years, prior to his arrival also, for traffic enforcement, DUI enforcement, and so forth. Through that program, within the last month, St. John was given more than $5,000 worth of equipment. They received ten PBTs, which is Portable Breath Testers.
Also, the Police Department staff has been trying to go digital to get all documents and reports digitized into the system and reduce paper usage. Mr. Wroe told Chief Kveton the Department is about 1/3 less paper than last year, so the Department is saving quite a bit of money there.
Chief Kveton concluded that the entire Northwest Indiana region has been suffering from a robbery suspect. They have experienced between 9-12 robberies in NWI and they have been everywhere from Munster to Highland to Schererville to St. John to Valparaiso to Michigan City. He added there is really no “rhyme or reason” to what is happening. The departments cannot figure out any patterns. The suspect is hitting all different kinds of businesses, usually small businesses like Subway, L.A. Tanning, and Fannie Mae candy. There is really not a pattern to it. Chief Kveton stated he spoke with the press yesterday and his recommendation is that if you find yourself in a situation like this, or have a family member that works in a business like this that might be the victim of something like this, please ask everyone not to put themselves in jeopardy. Be a good witness. Don’t try to take action against someone like this. Chief Kveton does not want anybody getting hurt. Try to memorize what you see—what he is wearing, how tall he is, how much he weighs, how old he is, anything unusual about him—if he has a limp, if he has an accent, if he has a mole or a scar or a tattoo or something like that. He reiterated to be a good witness. They want to get the crime pattern solved, but they want to make sure it is done safely.
Mr. Volk stated he would entertain a motion to approve the bills. “I’ll move to pay the bills,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (3/0). Ayes --- three. Nays --- none.
(The meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Mr. Forbes stated that the purpose of this special meeting was for discussion and consideration regarding group enlargement of INPRS to the 1977 Police Officer and Firefighters Pension and Disability Fund.
Mr. Jorgensen asked to make a point before the Council gets started on the New Business item. He stated there is no Public Comment on the agenda. He asked why there was not any Public Comment on the agenda.
Mr. Forbes stated that Special Meetings do not have Public Comment. Mr. Jorgensen asked, “Says who?” Mr. Forbes responded, “That is the way it’s always been.” Mr. Jorgensen told him that he never goes by what has always been and asked if that is statutory. Mr. Austgen responded, “No.” Mr. Jorgensen said that he did not think it was statutory and has no information as to why Public Comment would be off the agenda. He continued that it seems to him that if the Council calls a Special Meeting, specifically for one issue, people are going to want to talk. Mr. Jorgensen asked, speaking to the crowd, if there is anyone that wants to talk. Mr. Blazak said that it depends on what the conversation is. Mr. Jorgensen stated that if there is no statutory reason, he thinks the Council should take a vote, before moving on to New Business, on whether or not to include Public Comment. He said that if someone would like to make a motion that there should not be Public Comment, that person should do so. Otherwise, it is protocol to include Public Comment.
Mr. Forbes told Mr. Jorgensen that he disagrees with his suggested format but asked Mr. Jorgensen if he would like to make a motion authorizing Public Comment to be added to this meeting. Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Austgen if that was proper. Mr. Austgen responded that a motion is needed to amend this agenda.
Mr. Jorgensen made a motion to add Public Comment to this agenda. Mr. Barenie asked for a point of clarification. He asked if Public Comment will be added before New Business or after New Business. Mr. Jorgensen said that it would be before New Business because that is where it normally is and added that statement as part of his motion. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes---five. Nays---none.
Kathryn Wilson, 9621 E. Oakridge Drive
Ms. Wilson stated that these gentlemen deserve this change in their retirement and their disability. They have more than earned it. She said that she understands one of the questions this evening is the funding. She has no idea what the question is or what the different alternatives are, but she would imagine that if we are not paying social security anymore that would be an option of where the funds could come from. Ms. Wilson ended her comment by saying that she is glad to see it go through.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets thanked the Councilmen for calling this meeting for this evening. He thinks it is important to provide the funding for our Firefighters. He said that he does not have any comments specifically about the fund and how it should be funded because he knows there are a number of questions there. He wants to leave it up to the Council to decide. The question of whether that is bought in fully or it goes forward from day forward; he knows there a bunch of different options. Until he knows all of the details, he really cannot speak educated on it. Mr. Swets said that he would just encourage the Council to take care of our Firefighters. He thanked the Council.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak thanked Mr. Jorgensen for bringing up the point of Public Comment. He thinks it is important.
Mr. Blazak said that this meeting is for the benefit of our Firefighters. However, he agrees with Mr. Swets that once the discussion starts and once the questions start beginning, at some point, whether it be today or if this moves forward, their ought to be a Public Comment section to deal with what we will hear. Right now, the public does not have any knowledge any more than the Council does, as to what will be said. He believes that there should be Public Comment built in somewhere to be able to interact with the Council, as far as questions and such.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Blazak if he understands him correctly. After the presentation from the Firefighters and Mr. Cender today about this proposed plan, Mr. Blazak would like the Council call another meeting with Public Comment for the purposes of response. Mr. Blazak asked if the issue was going to be settled tonight. If the issue is going to be voted on there should be a Public Comment section after they hear the facts. Neither the Public nor the Council has heard anything, so the public would like to have input, as well. Mr. Jorgensen asked if Mr. Blazak is asking for a subsequent Public Comment after the presentation today. Mr. Blazak said, yes that is correct.
Mr. Forbes asked if there was any more Public Comment. Mr. Forbes stated that seeing none, we would now move on to New Business.
Mr. Sharp thanked the Council for calling this meeting. He thinks it is very important. Some of the things that are being talked about are the disability, retirement, and the pension itself. Also, there is more for the families that they do not have in the current Civilian Fund. It is a “pension-afterwards” thing that they will go into later, if need be, as a secondary.
Mr. Sharp noted that everyone has the same numbers. There is one change in the numbers that he found out about today. It is very small. The difference in the Social Security is listed at 7.63% but it is 7.65%. It is minor, but it makes a difference later on down the road.
Mr. Sharp said that when they looked at this, one of the things that they saw was a significant difference in their actual retirement benefits. What they currently pay into is 3% plus they pay into their Social Security. Mr. Sharp stated that everyone knows where Social Security stands and in 20 years, it is not guaranteed. The 77 Fund takes that factor out as it is designed for Firefighters and line-of-duty deaths.
Mr. Sharp noted that this is his first time speaking, so he is a little nervous.
He continued with stating that the ’77 Fund has line-of-duty deaths. It has benefits for things like funerals and the ability to take care of a Firefighter’s family after a line-of-duty death. One of the big pushes is not only for the Firefighters but also for their wives and kids. The Civilian Fund is significantly lower than what a Firefighter’s family would be getting if one of them does not come home. In fact, with every call, a Firefighter can have a back injury, a leg injury, or a shoulder injury. They have Firefighters with all kinds of different injuries, and they cannot perform the job anymore. They are done. Those Firefighters still have to wait until their age and years of service equal 85 to get benefits from the Civilian Fund. With the ’77 Fund, there is funding after 20 years of service or at age of 59. There is an option for drop years, but that is for the Firefighter to decide which option is best for him or her.
Mr. Sharp said the Firefighters received INPRS’s proposal in October and they reviewed the numbers to see if it was feasible. Then, they found out, in order to use the numbers in this proposal, the Council would have to take action by November 30th. Mr. Sharp thanked the Council again for calling this special meeting as they were kind of on “blitz.”
Mr. Sharp said that the numbers the Council has in front of them also say that there are seven Firefighters. But, Thomas Doughty retired on the 20th of this month and is no longer employed. Pasquale Savell is out on injury and that is the last they know. The Firefighters took Tom Doughty out because he retired and Pat Savell out because they do not know where his future stands with the Fire Department.
The Firefighters are asking that the Council look over the numbers and see what they can do moving forward. How can this be funded, paid for, and done? It is a benefit to the Fire Department; it is a benefit to the Town.
One of the things that it does is creates a dedication from the firefighters. The firefighters want to stay here. Other firefighters from other departments want to come here. Recruitment. Mr. Sharp said that the SJFD recently tested, and not one firefighter/paramedic wanted to get into the Civilian Fund. Crown Point offers the ’77 Fund and also recently tested. Right off of the bat they’ve already got nine firefighters/paramedics. So, as we look at Town growth, we need it. We need to attract firefighters/paramedics to come here. The way to attract them is by offering retirement for Police and Fire Fighters [’77 Fund]. The fund named for them, Police and Fire Fighters, so the firefighters are begging to be included in it.
The firefighters are asking if the Council would be willing to pay the $268,741 so that the current firefighters can get credit in the ’77 Fund for their time served.
Mr. Sharp said that he is ready to answer any questions or provide the Council with anything they need. There are other options that can be discussed if they are interested. Mr. Kil responded that he thinks Mr. Sharp should get into some more detail because not everybody on the dais deals with PERF every day. So, the more information that Mr. Sharp could share the better.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if he could start with his first question as that may be a good place to start. He asked why this proposal has to be heard on an expedited basis, that is before November 30th. Mr. Sharp explained that it is similar to an “open-enrollment.” The numbers they have been provided are good until January 1st. After January 1st, you cannot do open-enrollment again until next year. So, at that point the numbers will have increased by another year. That is why they are in a hurry to get it done now. If they don’t they will have to wait and the numbers will go up. It will be more of a cost later, and the firefighters will continue paying into the wrong fund.
Mr. Kil said that is not exactly accurate. There are two enrollments or group enlargement periods. One is January 1st and the other is July 1st. There will be another group enrollment period next year, July 1st. Mr. Kil told him that the actuarial study that was completed is probably good for the January enrollment. Another one would have to be ordered next year for a July 1st enrollment, but there are two periods.
Mr. Jorgensen clarified that it is then a six-month basis. Mr. Kil agreed that it is every six months. Mr. Jorgensen asked if we can expect a dramatic or huge increase or decrease. Mr. Kil said no, not in six months. Mr. Forbes added that it won’t be a decrease. Mr. Kil said nothing ever goes down. Mr. Forbes said that it will be an increase, but it most likely won’t be of significance. Mr. Jorgensen said that the reason he asks that is, in his profession, if there is something on an emergency basis then it is bad. Mr. Sharp said that the numbers will not be significant but the decision to allow the firefighters to participate is significant to them.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Sharp stated he would start with personnel [in the Civilian Fund]. Personnel pay in at 3% right now. For example, your age plus your time on the job has to equal 85. In that fund, some firefighters aren’t retiring due to this rule. So, a firefighter is working 15 years longer than a traditional “15-year firefighter”, so that’s 30 years on the job. That’s 30 years of potential injuries. Most firefighters are on disability before that 30 years on the job. This is one reason for the rush in joining the ’77 Fund for the firefighters.
Mr. Sharp added that the current contributions are as follows: the Town pays 11.2% to the Civilian Fund and 7.65% to Social Security. The Town is paying a total of 18.85% into the firefighter’s retirement right now. For the ’77 Fund, the Town would pay 17.5% and 0% to Social Security. The firefighters will pay 6%. So, the firefighter’s contributions increase, but the Town’s contributions will decrease 1.35%.
Mr. Sharp continued that the benefits for disability is another reason. He explained that the benefits for disability in the Civilian Fund is that if you have your time in, you can retire out of your pension. It is his understanding that, in the Civilian Fund, you basically have to cash out. You are going to get hit with taxes and you’re going to get hit with a penalty. The firefighters, who paid in, even if they get to 28 years, have to cash out and they are going to get hit hard. That is tens of thousands of dollars for these firefighters. Mr. Sharp mentioned they are looking at the long road.
Mr. Sharp explained that disability under the ’77 Fund has a formula that is around 45- 100% based on the degree of disability. For example, if you can go back to work, but you can’t go into structure fires or on EMS calls you are disabled to a certain point. Each firefighter knows that he or she is one call away from an injury. If you twist wrong, it can be a back injury. If you twist wrong and knee pops out, that is an injury. Mr. Sharp noted that most of the firefighters are 15-20 years into their careers, and they still have 20 years to go. So, the disability benefits of the ’77 Fund are huge.
Mr. Sharp added that as long as he has been around, one thing that is huge is the death benefit. The death benefit in the Civilian Fund is a simple payout and the number is low. Mr. Sharp added he doesn’t know the exact number because that is dependent on how much each individual firefighter contributed to the Civilian Fund at time of death.
So, a firefighter pays into the Civilian Fund for 28 years and his or her spouse only gets a small percentage.
The death-surviving spouse in the ’77 Fund gets 60% of the firefighter’s pension. So, if any of our firefighters don’t come home, his or her spouse gets 60% of their pension which is all funded through the ’77 Fund. The firefighter’s children get 20%. Twenty percent of his or her pension goes to that child until they are out of college. If a firefighter doesn’t come home due to a line-of-duty death, the first things they start to worry about are who is going to cut their grass? Who is going to be there for their kids? Who is going to help that kid when they go off to college? Who is going to help them with their homework? This gives them a little sense of normalcy. The bills are paid. They don’t have to worry about that. Without this pension, their family would be a single income family and the spouse will have to work twice as hard. The ’77 Fund gives a better benefit to the families. It also provides $12,000 for a funeral and a $150,000 payout for a line-of-duty death. This is a massive benefit to the families.
Mr. Sharp explained that there are also annuities that can be paid out. They can pay extra into it to give them the option for a savings for their kids for college and things like that.
Mr. Sharp said that there are some firefighters in the back of the room that have a ton more information and have done this several times. Mr. Sharp asked the Council if another firefighter can come up and talk about recruitment and what the ’77 Fund offers for future recruitments. Some of the firefighters come from bigger departments, and we are growing. We are averaging about 300 new homes per year. We still have the nursing home that is going to continue to grow with two more phases in the future. Let’s dream that we get a new fire station which would required six additional firefighters. Where are we going to get those six firefighters? We are currently still one person down. We are missing out on qualified candidates because they are going to places like Hammond, Valparaiso, Portage, and Chesterton. Those towns are hiring, and offering the ’77 Fund. So, that is where the qualified candidates are going. That is where we are losing them to.
Mr. Sharp said he provided a quick run-through on the pension. It pays for disability, and it pays for the death survivors. It pays for their spouse, their kids, and the funeral. It pays for every one of the firefighters sitting in back of the room. Mr. Sharp asked if he could have Mr. Lomeli speak. The Council agreed.
Mr. Sharp introduced Ed Lomeli from the Hammond Fire Department. Mr. Sharp said that he can explain the benefits of the ’77 Fund in more depth.
Mr. Lomeli said that he appreciates the Council giving an opportunity for the firefighters and their families to speak and to hopefully join the ’77 Fund. Mr. Lomeli said that he would share a little bit about himself and then about what he knows about recruitment and the benefits of the ’77 Fund, as Mr. Sharp said.
Mr. Lomeli said that he start his 29th year on January 1st. He has been on the job a long time and has seen a lot of fire. It’s increasing; one would think fires would be decreasing, but there is a lot of arson. There’s a lot of fire. Mr. Lomeli said that Hammond Fire Department deals with EMS. He’s not sure if the Town of St. John deals with the EMS part of it yet but for the firefighters, their responsibilities are growing every day. They try to make themselves more and more essential to the cities and towns they represent.
Mr. Lomeli mentioned that the St. John firefighters have just organized, and they are part of the Union now. The reason that they did that is that there is a huge, huge opportunity through the International Association of Firefighters and the Professional Firefighters Union of Indiana. They put on seminars to help firefighters learn more about what is going on in different cities, networking, and things that they can do on the job. They bring things to table to allow some funding resources, some ideas, some scenarios where they put Council members through, what they call a fire obstacle, to show exactly what firefighters do on a daily basis. In saying that, what the firefighters are doing is asking the Town to invest in them and in their families. That is the bottom line.
Mr. Lomeli said that Mr. Sharp did a great job presenting the numbers. He said that he was talking to their State President, Tom Hanify, from Indianapolis just before he came in the room. Mr. Lomeli stated that, unfortunately, there was a volunteer firefighter down south who was going on a call, and as he got off the rig, another volunteer firefighter didn’t see him, hit him, and he was killed. He was not part of the 1977 Fund, but he had two young kids. That is one thing that we feel policemen and firefighters deserve. With the Civilian PERF they are not going to have the opportunity to have this benefit for their life, their families, or their children to go to a state college. Mr. Lomeli said that he had a firefighter that was a friend and died from cancer. The ’77 Fund benefit is going to take care of his child through college.
Mr. Lomeli said that is what the firefighters are trying to get the Town to understand. It is not about the firefighters trying to live “high on the hog.” That is not the case. What they want everyone to understand is that they are doing this job, and they just want to take care of their families if anything happens. “God-willing” nothing does happen, but if it does, their families will be taken care of. That is what the bottom line is of being a part of the Acts of 1977. If there is more information the Council needs, Mr. Lomeli and Mr. Sharp can have people come that know a great deal about PERF from Indianapolis. They can meet with the Council individually, in a group, or whatever it may be. The important thing is that it is an investment in these firefighters.
Mr. Lomeli said that he has been the Union President for 18 years in Hammond. He has been on the board for 20 years. They have seen firefighters come from Gary, Schererville, etcetera. They come from all over the place because they are starting their families out and they feel that pension is so important to them especially with a young family. “God-forbid” something happens to them in the line of fire, they want to make sure their families will be taken care of.
Mr. Lomeli said if anyone has questions for him, he will be around for a while and he will leave his card. He thanked everyone for their time.
Mr. Sharp said that there is one thing he failed to go over when he was told that giving more information is better. He said that right now the number is $268,741. That is the initial buy-in for the firefighters who are currently working on the St. John Fire Department. It is to buy them in for their years of service to our community. We have firefighters with two years of service up to 15.75 years of service being the max. This buys them into the ’77 Fund as if the firefighters and the Town were contributing all along. That is what the money is for. It is not a “hurry-up and retire, here is $200,000.00”. The firefighters still have to meet the 20-year requirement; they still have to meet the age 59 and all of that. They can’t just get it and retire tomorrow. The $268,741 is to get everybody caught up for their years of service that they’ve already dedicated to the Town of St. John.
Mr. Forbes asked if anyone had any questions. He asked Mr. Kil if he has reviewed the current plan and the 1977 Plan.
Mr. Kil said yes. He said that there are a couple of things that can be discussed, just so everybody knows what is going on. Mr. Kil told Mr. Sharp that everybody is legitimately interested to hear about this. When Mr. Sharp came to him about it, Mr. Kil said, Well, come on in and let’s hear what you’ve got.” Mr. Kil said that he would explain just so everyone knows exactly what happened. He said that on the 15th of this month, the request was made. Mr. Kil had met with Mr. Sharp in the morning, and that day they had a million things to do. There was a Council meeting going on that evening. Mr. Kil said it was not reasonable to throw something like this at a “group of guys vis-a-vis.” So, now this special meeting is held.
Mr. Kil then stated that the actuarial analysis was ordered in the summer. He asked if that was correct. Mr. Sharp said that he believes so. Mr. Kil said that according to the paperwork it was dated September 29th. This leads him to believe that this was received in early October. Mr. Kil asked the Fire Department why they waited until the last minute to make the request? Why did they not bring this up in the summer, when the actuarial analysis was requested? Mr. Kil said that he is sure they had to ask Ms. Hernandez to order the actuarial study for them. Mr. Kil said she is authorizer; she is the only one who can, so she had to do it. Mr. Kil said that he is just wondering that as he digs through this stuff, learning the in1 s and outs, and all of the nuances. He knows that they all were thinking about this in the summer when this was ordered.
Mr. Sharp said that he will admit it was a “pipe-dream” this summer because anytime the idea of the firefighters joining the ’77 Fund was mentioned everyone’s response was, ”Oh my gosh, the numbers, the numbers, the numbers”. That was what prompted the numbers to be ordered. When the actual numbers were received, Mr. Sharp said it was up to him to figure out the terminology without having any background. So, it took him a long time.
Mr. Kil acknowledged that it was difficult to understand, and stated because of that, the firefighters should appreciate everybody’s position. Mr. Sharp said that he could totally appreciate it.
Mr. Kil said that he would like everybody to be clear here. In the study that was done, there is a true-up cost, like Mr. Sharp said, of $268,741, roughly-within a dollar or so. There are two components to that cost. So, what PERF, in essence, was considering when they did the actuarial analysis was they took what was already paid into Civilian PERF and credited that against what the total 17.5%, less the 11.2% that was paid in. So, there is an employee portion and there is an employer portion. The employer portion is $181,529.00. The employee portion is $87,212.00. The request that is made by Mr. Sharp and the firefighters is that the Council pays for both.
Mr. Sharp agreed that was the initial request, and one of the thought processes was that when the firefighters get into the ’77 Fund, the Town will essentially save 1.35% of the budget. They were hoping that would help off-setting that cost. Mr. Kil responded that he would get there in a second and just wanted to clarify that the initial request was that the Town Council pick up the tab; both components.
Mr. Kil said that Mr. Sharp was kind enough to provide him with a spreadsheet, which Mr. Kil also read on NextDoor. He is assuming that Mr. Sharp supplied it to the public. Mr. Sharp said everyone has the same information that Mr. Kil has. It is no secret.
Mr. Kil said that he is going to run through this really quickly. The numbers are not exactly correct. It is 7.65% for FICA. FICA has a Social Security and a Medicare component to it. The Town would still be subject to paying the Medicare portion of that. So, what that means, in round numbers, is that the cost-savings is reversed. It actually costs more when you add those numbers up. Mr. Kil wanted to make sure Mr. Sharp understood that. Mr. Sharp responded that he is glad they are having this meeting because is learning just as much as the Council is.
Mr. Kil said he enlisted the help of the Town’s financial advisor because he is not a professional in this area either. Mr. Kil explained, just so everybody is clear, the numbers are reversed. The way it actually works out is that the Civilian PERF cost is 18.85% and the ’77 Fund cost would be 18.95%. It is small; it is like splitting hairs. Mr. Kil said that one of the big things he kept hearing was “the savings, the savings”. Well, there is no savings. Mr. Kil said that the whole point of this is to make sure that the Councilmen have the correct information to make the best decision they can for everybody involved, because this is important. It is definitely important for the firefighters, and Mr. Kil understands that. He wants to make sure that everybody has the correct information and that everybody knows what is going on.
Mr. Kil said it sounds like one of the biggest concerns the firefighters have is with the disability portion of the Civilian Fund. Mr. Kil asked if that was correct. Mr. Sharp said with the families, yes.
Mr. Kil addressed the different pension options. The Town is paying in at 11.2% and the mandatory contribution from the employee is 3%. For the ’77 Fund, the employees contribute 6% and the Town contributes 17.5%. With that, there is no Social Security taken out either.
Mr. Kil said that when he retires, he is going to get Civilian PERF. He can expect to get his retirement benefit, and he can expect to get Social Security. Mr. Sharp said that is correct. Mr. Kil said for the ’77 Fund, you do not pay into Social Security, but it is his understanding that the firefighters will be eligible for Social Security benefits. Mr. Kil asked if they knew that. Mr. Sharp said it was explained that they will get credit for the amount they have currently paid while being in the Civilian Fund. Mr. Kil spoke up that it will be at a reduced benefit. They will be eligible for it, but it will be a reduced benefit. It is impossible to determine what that will be for each individual because each individual is different. Their circumstances are different.
Mr. Kil added that the biggest thing is that in the 1977 Fund you can work 20 years and you can be out by 52 not 59. Mr. Sharp said that is a “DROP” option. Mr. Kil said you can put in 20 years and go. Mr. Kil said with the Civilian, Mr. Sharp is correct; your age plus your years of service have to equal 85 years. Just so everybody has an understanding what the difference is with the two funds.
Mr. Kil said that he doesn’t have all of the disability information for the ’77 Fund. Calling PERF and trying to get someone to talk to you is almost impossible. Mr. Kil said that Mr. Sharp knows because he tried calling too. They won’t talk to Mr. Kil. Mr. Sharp said that he barely gets a hello. Mr. Kil said that he understands. Mr. Sharp said that in one of the emails that came through it does have “Exhibit 4” and “Exhibit 5” which have general statements in the back.
Mr. Kil added that in addition to what they get through Civilian PERF, there is an insurance policy for the Fire Department. Mr. Kil said that he has had a chance to dig into it a little bit. He knows that, for instance, they were wondering about a death benefit. Right now, in addition to whatever PERF gives, the Town has a plan that will also pay $275,000.00. Mr. Kil said that is a pretty good amount of money. There are impairment benefits, dismemberment benefits, loss of speech or hearing benefits and a weekly benefit where the firefighters can collect up to $1,400 per week. It’s a loss of income benefit. Mr. Kil noted that is roughly $70,000.00 per year.
Mr. Forbes asked if that was in the case that they are disabled. Mr. Kil said that is if they are injured and they cannot work. So, let’s say that a fireman is injured. They go on Workman’s Compensation. The Town has a policy that if a fireman is injured at work, within the first year, they receive their workman’s comp check. They bring that check to the Clerk-Treasurer’s office. The Clerk-Treasurer then gives them their normal paycheck. In essence, what we do is “we shoot the gap” that Workman’s Comp won’t pay, to make them whole salary. So, Workman’s Comp pays 66 and 2/3rds percent and the Town picks up the remainder so they get their whole check. At the end of that year, the Town portion is reduced, but they still receive the Workman’s Comp portion. This insurance policy is in addition to Workman’s Comp.
Mr. Kil stated that this policy is not designed to last forever, but it is designed to last until a point where, if something very serious happened, the firefighter could get on Social Security Disability or take full retirement; whatever the case. There are a lot of different scenarios. This is designed to “shoot that gap.” Mr. Kil wants to make sure everybody understands that it is not like the “guys are just hanging out there.”
Mr. Kil said that they have gone through great pains, and so has Chief Willman over the years. Originally, this policy was designed for the volunteers. Mr. Kil remembers when it was implemented. A volunteer comes to work, gets injured in a fire, and go to the steel mill to do his full time job. So, what is he supposed to do? We had to have a policy that would cover that, and help the volunteers out because why would they volunteer? You can’t risk your life, and then can’t make a living. This insurance policy covers the volunteers as well. Mr. Kil told Mr. Sharp that they are all covered extremely well.
Mr. Kil added there are a lot of particulars. If the firefighters were in the ’77 Fund, it is his understanding that if something happens, they are to be pensioned out. Their benefits could be anywhere from 20-100%. That is what Mr. Kil was told. The local pension board would make a recommendation, he is sure, because they always do, but, in the end, PERF has sole discretion. Mr. Kil said that the point he is making, and what he wants the Councilmen to understand is that “these guys have been well taken care of. In no way, shape, or form have they been ignored.” Mr. Kil told Mr. Sharp that they probably didn’t even know these types of things and big dollar amounts existed.
Mr. Sharp said that they know they have been taken care of. They know Chief Willman has worked hard to make sure that they are taken care of. They are not taking anything away from that but this added insurance policy is an added cost to the Town. Mr. Kil said that the Town would still have to keep that policy for the volunteers so the policy is not going to go away no matter what.
Mr. Sharp retorted that just because this board approves this added insurance policy does not guarantee that the next board that comes in will want to pay for the insurance policy. Mr. Kil said that he does not have a crystal ball, but he seriously doubts that whoever replaces this board would arbitrarily come in and take a policy away from the Volunteer Fire Department and the firemen that would supplement them in case of an on-duty related injury. He really finds that hard to believe.
Mr. Kil said he would now have Mr. Gender, the Town’s Financial Advisor, give more information about how these [pension plans] are funded and what these are.
Mr. Gender thanked the President, Mr. Forbes, and the gentlemen of the Council for having him here tonight. He said that it is a lot of information to absorb in a rather short period of time. Several people have asked Mr. Gender various questions about the different benefits and aspects of both of these plans. Mr. Gender said that has a thick packet of all of this information, but he will try to keep it brief. He thinks Mr. Sharp has done a nice job of summarizing where the Town is at with the Civilian PERF and a lot of the benefits of the 1977 Plan. Mr. Gender said that he is just going to try and highlight some things and try not to repeat too much.
Mr. Gender said that, in the packet, the first two pages are titled “PERF at a Glance.” There is a more detailed booklet on PERF’s website that can be downloaded which has more specifics but this information is really at a high level. A lot of the information entails what Mr. Sharp has already said. Contributions for the actual defined benefit plan itself are the employer pays 100% and presently the Town contributes 11.2% of those contributions. The employees contribute 3% to their annuity savings account.
Eligibility for pension benefits in the middle section can begin as early as age 65 with 10 years of service, or age 60 with 15 years. At age 55 if the age and the credible services total at least 85. Again, being the Rule of 85. There is an early retirement option with reduced benefits between ages 50 and 59 with 15 years of service or at age 70 with 20 years of service. There are some other restrictions with that.
Mr. Barenie explained that it says, under voluntary contributions, employees can elect to contribute additional funds. The Civilian Fund and ’77 Fund are qualified plans. Employees in the Civilian Plan contribute 3% and the Police Department, in the ’77 Plan, contributes 6%. Mr. Barenie said that his guess would be that those are both pre tax. Mr. Cender responded it is pre-tax only if the Town Council has adopted a resolution to authorize those being pre-tax.
Mr. Barenie asked if employees in the Civilian Plan can contribute an additional 3% to get it up to the 6% like the ’77 Fund. Mr. Cender said that is correct. Mr. Kil said that employees in the Civilian Fund can contribute up to an additional 10% for a maximum contribution of 13%.
Mr. Barenie asked if employees in the 1977 Fund can increase their contribution as well. Mr. Cender and Mr. Kil said they do not know and are not aware of that. Mr. Kil added he has never met anyone who has done that. Mr. Barenie asked all attendees if they contribute more than 6%. Mr. Kil asked again if anybody in the 1977 Fund contributes more than 6%. Mr. Kil stated it did not look like anyone contributes more than 6%. Mr. Barenie asked the attendees if they knew they could contribute more. Mr. Kil interjected that they may not be able to. Mr. Kil clarified that employees in the Civilian Fund can but he does not know about the 1977 Fund. Mr. Sharp spoke up saying that there is a 3% ASA annuity in addition to the 6% mandatory contribution. Mr. Kil clarified that employees in the ’77 Fund can actually contribute up to 9% then.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Cender moved onto eligibility for disability benefit payment under the Civilian Plan. An employee can be qualified through PERF for disability payments if he or she has a qualified Social Security disability benefit and furnished proof of qualification. This means a PERF covered position with a minimum of five years of service will receive a salary within 30 days of a termination date. The second page talks about what happens with withdrawals before retirement and the various options. At retirement, the employee will have to make some choices regarding his or her annuity savings account. That is a brief summary of the Civilian Plan.
Mr. Cender moved on to the ’77 Plan. He reiterated that all of this is found on PERF’s website and is very similar to what Mr. Sharp has indicated. The main thing is that the pension benefit is based on a first class Police or Firefighter’s certified salary plus longevity increases, provided by the employer, for service of twenty years or less. Upon retirement, benefits are based on the certified salary, effective for the Police or Fire Department in the year the employee’s service ends. Presently, the rate for the Town, as Mr. Cender understands, is 17.5% plus the firefighters contribute 6% of the certified salary.
Mr. Cender continue that eligibility for normal retirement benefits is age 52 with at least 20 years of credible service in the plan. The monthly benefits are equal to at least 50% of the [first class Police or Firefighter’s] certified salary in the year he or she retires plus an additional 1% of the certified salary for each six months of active service over 20 years. It also talks about the eligibility for the “DROP”, Deferred Retirement Option Plan, and early retirement benefits. It also has a brief overview of the provided survivor benefits, disability benefits, and lump sum death benefits that are included. The employee’s heirs are entitled to a one-time death benefit of $12,000 upon death. If the employee dies in the line of duty his or her benefits are calculated as though he or she is receiving retirement benefits at age 52 with 20 years of service. There is an additional death benefit of $150,000.00 if the employee dies in the line of duty. That is on the second page.
Mr. Kil asked Mr. Cender to explain the withholding of 18.85% and 18.95% that was referenced earlier. Mr. Cender explained that in the Civilian Plan the Town is contributing 11.2%. FICA is two components. There is the Social Security benefit with a cost of 6.2% and then a Medicare benefit with a cost of 1.45%. That is the total of the 7.65%. So, the employee pays 7.65% and the Town also contributes 7.65%. So, the Town’s total contribution is 18.85%.
Mr. Gender moved on to the ’77 Plan. The Social Security contribution would go away because, in the State of Indiana, none of the participants pay into Social Security. So, the 6.2% goes away, but they are still required to contribute to Medicare. That is the 1.45%. Mr. Gender said that he thinks that is the part that was missing in Mr. Sharp’s presentation. That brings the total cost up to 18.95%. So, it is not a huge increase, but it is a small cost increase.
Mr. Cender noted that he has included in the materials some of IRS information specifically issues for Firefighters. It is in the packet on the second page. It talks about Social Security and states that after July 1st of 1991, State and Local Government bodies are generally subject to Social Security per wages paid. Unless, they either participate in a qualifying Public Retirement System or are under a voluntary Section Two Agreement with the State and the Social Security Administration. There are further details and an IRS publication. Mr. Gender has included some sections but did not include all of it.
Mr. Cender moved on to Medicare tax. The IRS says, with very few exceptions, employees, including Firefighters, hired after March 31, 1986, are covered by Medicare tax. Employees hired before that date may be exempt if they had continuous employment since that time. That is important to note. That is a cost that the firefighters would have to contribute, just like the Town’s policemen contribute in the ’77 Fund. The Town then pays an identical 1.45%. Mr. Cender said he thought that would hopefully set the record straight. It is not optional. It is totally mandatory.
Mr. Cender added that he has a packet from the Social Security Administration that is in the handouts. It talks about retirement benefits and how they are figured. Mr. Cender suggests everyone signs up on the Social Security Administration website by creating a user account or username and password. Everyone can log-in and check what his or her own earnings have been because sometimes the government does make mistakes. It is not a bad idea to periodically check and see what is there. They also have a calculator on the website that everyone can use to find out estimated benefits based on years of work and credits. This can be done regardless of what retirement plan you participate in.
Some people have asked Mr. Cender what happens with the fire fighters if they go into the 1977 Plan. Are they still eligible for Social Security. Mr. Cender said that to his understanding the answer is yes. Although, there is a reduction because Congress did not want there to be an unnecessary benefit given for participating in both Social Security and in the ’77 Plan. So, they created something called the “Windfall Elimination Provision”. It basically gives a credit for those government employees participating in a qualified retirement plan, who have also paid into Social Security over the years. That reduction could be in the range of 40%-90%. It is too hard to figure out because everybody’s situation is going to be different. How many years of experience? When do you anticipate retiring? What other earnings you had prior to becoming a police of fireman. So, it is really difficult to know. In the packet, there are some tables that will walk you through how all of this works. Mr. Cender said that the point is that for the firemen, yes, they will get a portion of their Social Security contributions, but it may be at a reduced amount of at least 50%.
Mr. Kil said that obviously when you look at the years these men have been here; the Town as well as the employees have been paying into the Social Security. They realize that the Social Security Administration is not refunding the Town or its employees money. That money has already been paid, and that is gone. So, in essence, if they opted into the ’77 Fund, they would receive all of the Social Security benefits in addition to the benefits of the ’77 Fund. Mr. Cender corrected Mr. Kil that they would receive a reduced amount of Social Security benfits. Mr. Kil said his point is that the firefighters would have the benefit of having Social Security.
Mr. Cender said the amount of the reduced benefit would be figured at the time that an individual would retire. There is a separate calculator for employees that are under a qualified retirement plan, such as the 1977 Plan. It is much more time consuming than what we have time for tonight.
Mr. Cender said that we have walked through the Civilian Plan, the ’77 Plan, a little bit about the Social Security benefits are calculated, and the fact that there is the added cost of the Medicare tax. Now, it just gets down to if the Town were to adopt this; the $268,741, how would it be funded.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if the only option for getting the firefighters into the ’77 Fund is the Town paying the entire $270,000. Is there any other contribution portion that the firefighters can make as well?
Mr. Cender said that there is certainly an employee portion and he supposes that is something that would have to be discussed with the F\firemen. Do you share that cost, or require that they make their portion of what they should have paid had they been in the plan from day one. Mr. Jorgensen asked what those two numbers are. Mr. Cender said that the Town’s portion is $181,529 and the employee’s portion is $87,212.
Mr. Barenie said that Mr. Sharp discussed a lot of difficult issues. A lot of “what-if” scenarios. What if a fireman was hurt? What if they lost their lives? Mr. Barenie said he is struggling when he compares the ’77 Fund to the private policy. It looks like the total benefit for the worst scenario, which is loss of life, would be $150,000 in the ’77 Fund. Mr. Barenie then noted that it is $275,000 with the private policy, which is significantly higher. For a spouse and surviving children, it looks like the benefits are also higher with the private policy than in the ’77 Fund. Mr. Barenie said that he just wants to make sure that he is understanding this correctly because this is the first time he has seen both plans. Disability benefits was one of the larger parts of the discussion and all of the possible accidents and so-forth. But, as Mr. Barenie looks at the two plans, it looks like one is significantly better than the other. So, he must be reading this wrong, but the numbers are here. He just wanted clarification from someone that knows.
Mr. Forbes said that the existing circumstances right now are better than the ’77 Plan at the end of the day. Mr. Barenie agreed. Mr. Kil said that Mr. Sharp was saying that if the firefighters were to opt into the ’77 Plan, the Town would not need this private policy anymore. So, the firemen wouldn’t want these benefits anymore.
Mr. Kil said that he just wanted to share that this private policy costs the Town about $17,000 per year. The Chief has gone through great pains over the last decades to make sure that this is in place and that the “guys” 11 are covered. The Town Council has never “bawked” at it, and he suspects they never will. The Town deals with insurance premiums all the time and this has never been one that has remotely been questioned. It has simply been voted on and approved. Mr. Kil said everyone is trying to do a comparison and he wants the comparison to be “apples to apples” to make sure the “guys” know what they have now, and if they go to the ’77 Fund, what they are going to get. The police officers, who are currently in the ’77 Fund, do not have this private policy. This is only for firemen.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Kil said he has spent the last week trying to dig through all this information. Mr. Forbes interjected that they actually don’t have all of the information yet. He noted that Mr. Kil mentioned a few things that they still need to look into.
Mr. Kil said that he hasn’t had a chance to talk to the private policy insurance agent. These policies are extremely difficult to read, but they do have the list of basic benefits. As in anything, there are always details in here that he is sure he is not reading correctly. So, he wants to make sure that he digs into all of the details, but he does know what the dollar amounts are for each benefit. That is stated clearly in the chart. He is not exactly certain if there are any exceptions. He needs to make sure he talks to the private policy insurance agent about that. He simply has not had a chance, but the firefighters do have a fantastic insurance policy in place right now with fantastic payouts. One firefighter is getting paid through this private policy right now, so it is working.
Mr. Barenie asked if he was being paid through the private policy. Mr. Kil said yes, because he is still on Workman’s Comp. He exceeded the one-year elimination time that the Town has to make up the difference in pay. This policy is paying for what he is missing in addition to what he is missing from working his part-time job. An attendee asked Mr. Kil for how long.
Mr. Kil answered, if he is reading everything correctly, at least five years. This is something Mr. Kil has to check with the agent on because the policy has certain details that say “limitations that apply to income protection benefit”. This is an income protection benefit. If a firefighter is hurt, he or she still has an income coming in. The part that Mr. Kil read that he wants to make sure he understands correctly is “if a career personnel insured person is approved for disability retirement”. Mr. Kil thinks this contemplates, at some point that if a firefighter cannot work anymore, it would be time for Social Security Disability. It says, “or otherwise retires all eligibility for total disability or partial disability, terminates on the effective date of such retirement.” So, this plan would eventually cease if a firefighter was hurt in a bad enough way where he or she needed to go on Social Security Disability. It is Mr. Kil’s belief that this plan would stay in effect until the firefighter can supplement his or her income. Mr. Kil said that he is going to verify that.
Mr. Kil reiterated that the Town does have everything in place, and that he does understand the desire to opt into the ’77 Plan. He knows that right now if one of our police officers were to retire they would get $34,122.40 per year. That is 50% of a firstclass patrolman’s pay. Mr. Kil said that he is not sure what that number would be, exactly, for the firemen. They [‘77 Fund participants] do get a “way reduced” Social Security benefit. Mr. Cender added that they [’77 Fund participants] are eligible for Medicare.
Mr. Kil agreed and asked if the Civilian Pension plus full Social Security plus Medicare equals out to the ’77 Fund. Is he missing anything in the numbers? Mr. Cender said that, in theory, it is supposed to equal out, but it all depends on what the employee has contributed over the years.
Mr. Kil said that if, in theory, the actual pension equals out, then we are down to the disability portion. Mr. Kil said that the Town definitely has a policy in place to cover that. There is no doubt about it. It is very generous and rich, as it should be. Mr. Kil said that he does understand the disability portion of the ’77 Fund a little better now.
Mr. Forbes asked if there are any other questions for Mr. Sharp or Mr. Cender. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes asked the Town Council for their thoughts.
Mr. Volk asked if more information needed to be gathered, as Mr. Kil said that he hasn’t completely investigated everything. Do we need more information before we can make a decision?
Mr. Kil said that he doesn’t have all the answers he wants on the insurance part and the disability part. He doesn't know all of the answers when it comes to the Civilian and ’77 Fund. Mr. Kil stated that Mr. Gender eluded to the fact that with Civilian PERF, an employee would have to show proof that he or she is on Medicare Disability then PERF would allow him or her to apply for that benefit. Mr. Gender said that he believes that is correct. Mr. Kil said that he thinks, for the ’77 Fund, it would be a PERF decision with a recommendation from the local board. Mr. Cender said that he thinks that it also goes through the PERF board as well. Mr. Kil said, yes, down state, but the local board would make a recommendation, ultimately, then to be approved by the state board. Mr. Jorgensen said, in simple terms, it translates to more bureaucracy with the ’77 Fund.
Mr. Kil said that there is no doubt that the policemen and firefighters want everybody “sold” on the ’77 Fund. For some reason, that is all he has heard from everybody, and he has been around for 25 years. He understands why everybody wants it. It seems like more of a guarantee. If nothing else, the benefits are clear. It seems like there is an attraction for the firefighters to go “20 years and out” like the police officers. There is a certain attraction to that. He has heard it from the police officers as well. Mr. Kil said he believes that is what the attraction is for the “guys”.
Mr. Kil said that he thinks that they have shown cursory that the offered benefits are on par. No one is lacking anything, but moving forward, he knows that something that would attract new employees would be having the ’77 Fund in place. If somebody were to transfer from another department or look to come under the employment of the Town and they were already covered by the ’77 Plan, they would want to go someplace where they can transition into it. Mr. Kil said that he can see the attraction for moving forward why the ’77 Fund might be a good recruitment tool or employment tool. That would certainly make sense. Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Kil if that would be an option to elect for new hires.
Mr. Kil said that the Council has four options. Enlargement can occur two times: January 1st and July 1st. The first option is to approve the firefighter's request which is, “hey guys, pay the total bill. Pay the employer and the employee cost. Bring us up to speed. Just say $270,000 for round numbers”. The second option would be for the Town to pay the employer cost which is what would have normally been paid if the firefighters were in the ’77 Fund all along. Then, the employee would pay his or her portion and bring themselves whole that way. Mr. Jorgensen asked if that amount would be the $87,212. Mr. Kil said the Town’s portion would be $181,529. The employees each have a different dollar amount but collectively total $87,000 amongst five of them. The third option is to do nothing and leave everything status quo. The forth option is to authorize the ’77 Fund moving forward. Mr. Forbes added that it would only be for new hires. Mr. Kil mentioned that PERF was asked “if the current firemen can freeze the Civilian Pension and start in the ’77 Fund at zero.” Mr. Kil has an email from PERF where they answered that question as “no.” Mr. Kil said he definitely understands the wisd.om in moving forward with the ’77 Fund. The recruitment for the Town and the future of the community seemed to be one of Mr. Sharp’s biggest concerns when he spoke to Mr. Kil, which really made a lot of sense.
Mr. Kil reiterated that those are the four options. He added that maybe some thought or additional review of the numbers is in order because he does not have all of the answers. There are two enrollments, so it’s not like the firefighters will have to wait a year to enroll. Or, if the Council is prepared, a decision can be made tonight.
Mr. Kil added that more and more departments are, in fact, in the ’77 Fund. Mr. Kil said, with that being said, the Town paying the entire cost seems pretty steep. Mr. Sharp had the benefit of getting a “Budget 101” class when he and Mr. Kil met. Mr. Sharp didn't realize all of the different costs that the Town has. When Mr. Kil broke it down for him, Mr. Sharp said, “Well, I didn’t know that.” Just so the firefighters know, Mr. Sharp is now educated on that.
Mr. Austgen said that the “do nothing” option is not really a “do nothing” option. For the last couple of business days, there has been an incredible amount of analysis, research, and review to pull together all of the information that has been shared here tonight. It probably is not very cohesive in terms of this how it works; this is what you have. The exchange of information here tonight has been valuable. Mr. Austgen, as the Town’s lawyer, said that he is always looking for clarity or clean and easy lines of understanding. It seems appropriate that, going forward, no matter what the Council selects and deems appropriate, that there is a clearer or more simplified methodology for the identification of the benefits that are available and that are being provided. Mr. Austgen said that he thinks that a lot was learned but that there are more questions as this was studied tonight. There are more questions that came out of the findings than they had imagined. Mr. Austgen said that it is his suggestion, no matter what happens here tonight, that this information be congealed and pulled together into a benefit package or benefit report that everyone can understand.
Mr. Kil said that maybe as a component of that, Mr. Gender could clean up the numbers and prepare a revised spreadsheet that shows the correct deductions and what it would truly cost for everybody. It would be nice to know to make sure that the numbers are correct. Mr. Kil said that he would love to see that.
Mr. Barenie said that he would like to see a side-by-side comparison of the disability insurance policy for the two plans. There was a gentleman in the back who asked “how long.” Mr. Kil said that he needs to talk to somebody to be certain. Mr. Barenie said that he would like to see a table for every incident that Mr. Sharp mentioned. He would like to see which plan is stronger. Mr. Barenie also stated that recruiting is an issue. Since the firefighters didn’t know about everything they are currently offered, they are going to have to blend it in to their recruitment needs. Otherwise, the firefighters are probably missing out on an opportunity here or there because these benefits appear to be really solid.
Mr. Sharp said that is the biggest question going forward with both the policies. The firefighters can see, in ink, how many years they are covered in the ’77 Fund. What are the numbers going to be and how long does the benefit from the private policy last for them?
Mr. Kil told Mr. Sharp that is what Mr. Barenie is getting at here. List all of the 1977 divine benefits then list what is currently offered next to it to do a true comparison. This will be for Mr. Sharp’s benefit too because the firefighters are the ones that would use this, not the Council.
Mr. Forbes said, at the end of the day, the Council should just chalk this up as an initial discussion on this. There is no rush. There is no panic. There is no “edge of the cliff.” There are opportunities going forward. They can clarify all of the information, side-by side so that everybody will have the same information. Right now, they all don't have the same information. A lot of it was dropped on the Council tonight. Let’s get it all on paper because that this is the right thing to do. Mr. Forbes does not want to take away from the firefighters because they “think” that they are going to get a better benefit. Mr. Forbes stated that he would be “okay'' with deferring this discussion until another day so everyone can regroup and figure out where to go from here. “It’s not a, we are saying no.” It's is just a continuation of the discussion. Mr. Forbes asked if anybody has any objections or any different opinions.
Mr. Volk said no. He thinks that is great.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that he doesn’t feel comfortable, at this point, saying he would prefer that the firefighters all be in ’77 Plan now. Mr. Jorgensen said that he couldn’t say that based on what he heard tonight, and everything that they’ve looked at thus far. It all hasn’t been done, and it doesn’t sound like there is going to be a serious financial issue for the Town if they wait and take this up in the June meeting at the latest. They have until that time to elect, but he doesn’t know if that is what the five of them want going forward. Again, as a recruitment tool, that is something that they need to consider because it is uniform, “but for our folks well, no.”
Mr. Sharp said that by comparing both plans, side-by-side, they can see if there are some missing components that they didn’t see. Mr. Jorgensen said that the firefighters are not going to lose anything by giving up a few months or a half a year. It is worth the analysis.
Mr. Kil said that he doesn’t even know that it would take that long, although, he can’t seem to get ahold of PERF. It is very difficult because he is not the authorized representative. Mr. Kil said for a July 1st start date, they would probably have to pass a resolution by May 30th. Another actuarial study would have to conducted as it is most likely required. It would have to be ordered and paid for this time. Mr. Jorgensen said he is fine with that.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if any additional public would like to comment.
Matt Cella, 10065 W 93rd Avenue
Mr. Cella said that what he has heard tonight is kind of mind-boggling a little bit. He has heard a lot of good things about the Civilian PERF, as well as the ’77 Fund. He knows that the firefighters are here to ask to go into the ’77 Fund, which to his understanding is the Police and Firefighter Fund. The Police are not asking to go into the Civilian PERF.
Mr. Cella said that he heard Mr. Kil say that it’s cheaper and better in the Civilian PERF. So, will both entities be moved into the Civilian PERF? Shouldn’t the Police Department and Fire Department be in the same pension? If we find that the Civilian PERF is better for everybody, is that going to now include the Police Department? Or, if the ’77 Fund is found to be better, shouldn’t the Fire Department be able to join?
Mr. Forbes stated that the Police Department does not have that private insurance policy. Mr. Kil added that the Police Department is in the ’77 Fund now and the firemen are asking to be placed in that fund with the Police Department.
Mr. Cella said that he understands that, but we are talking about the Police and Firefighter Fund. Mr. Kil agreed that is what the ’77 Fund is. Mr. Cella said so, his question is that our police are in there, and they are not coming to the Council asking to be placed in the Civilian Fund which is supposed to be so much better, but the firefighters are coming to the Council and asking to be placed in the Police and Firefighter Pension. Mr. Cella began his question, “Don't you think it would be better to…?” Mr. Kil interrupted and responded that it is his understanding that the police can’t be place into the Civilian Fund. “Once you're in, you're in. You're done. If we migrate these guys over and adopt that fund, there’s no going back.” Mr. Kil added that he wants to make sure that it’s verified but that is his understanding. Mr. Kil knows the police officers are not asking to get out of the ’77 Fund. They came in; they took the job; they knew what it was. When they were hired on, they knew what they were getting.
Mr. Cella said that he is a simple minded guy. It’s all civil service and “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” Mr. Kil said that he doesn’t think anybody on the dais is saying it’s not. He didn’t hear that one time. It is what is better for “the guys.” As a matter of fact, he specifically heard Mr. Barenie ask for a side-by-side comparison because they want to make sure that they don’t remove benefits that these guys are actually getting. The firefighters didn’t even know that they have this private policy in place that would cover them. Mr. Kil said he hasn’t looked at the private policy in over a decade. It was originally put in place for the volunteers, and the “full-time guys” just kind of migrated into it.
Mr. Cella said he appreciates the opportunity to address the Council, and that he looks forward to the meetings to follow.
Ed Lomeli, Hammond Fire Department
Mr. Lomeli said that there are a couple of things that he thinks they might be misunderstanding about “the guys” being entitled to a Social Security. Mr. Lomeli explained that the firefighters would be entitled to Social Security if they had enough credit hours from part-time jobs. They would be only entitled to a reduced Social Security benefit if they had enough credit hours doing a part-time job---not being a firefighter [in the ’77 Fund]. They will not get credit hours of being a firefighter in the ’77 Fund toward Social Security. It would be on a part-time job that they would accumulate those hours to get that reduced Social Security benefit.
The second item is that they have a State Board member from Fort Wayne that is on the PERF board. They would be happy to get the Town any information that is requested, through Mr. Sharp.
Mr. Lomeli thanked the Council for the opportunity to give the firefighters a chance to explain their situation.
Mr. Kil thanked Mr. Lomeli. He said that if Mr. Lomeli has someone on that board that could answer the Town’s questions that would be helpful. Mr. Lomeli said that they do. His name is Mike Pinkham, and he is from Fort Wayne. Mr. Lomeli said that he knows what Mr. Kil is talking about. Mr. Kil said that he is not even kidding. As Town Manager, he cannot get any answers. Mr. Lomeli said that you play “ring around the rosie” when you call there. Mr. Lomeli said he will set Mr. Sharp up with an individual from the PERF board to get these numbers and the comparisons together.
Mr. Lomeli said that he will say something that he heard being discussed this evening. That is, five years is nothing. If you’re dealing with cancer, for example, five years is nothing. The end of that policy, when it is done, you still have children and a family to take care of. That is important to remember. That is a big benefit when you are part of the Acts of 77 Fund. Mr. Lomeli thanked all.
Mr. Forbes asked if there was anybody else that wanted to make comment. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes asked the Council, “Gentlemen, what is your pleasure for this evening?”
Mr. Kil asked if the Council could give Mr. Cender, Mr. Austgen and himself more time.
Mr. Forbes stated, then, a motion to defer. Mr. Forbes asked if there was such a motion. Mr. Volk made a motion to defer. Mr. Hastings seconded that motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes---five. Nays---none.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:32 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez
|MICHAEL FORBES, President||CHRISTIAN JORGENSEN||BETH HERNANDEZ, Clerk-Treasurer|
|STEVE HASTINGS, Vice-President||CHIEF FRED WILLMAN||STEVE KIL, Town Manager|
|GREGORY VOLK||CHIEF JAMES KVETON||DAVID AUSTGEN, Town Attorney|
(The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.)
Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion. Mr. Volk stated that he would make a motion to approve the November 16, 2017 meeting minutes. Mr. Jorgensen seconded that motion. Mr. Forbes abstained. The motion was carried by voice vote (3/0/1). Ayes—three. Nays—none. Abstention—one (Forbes).
Mr. Aylesworth wished everyone a good evening and said that it is good to see everyone again. He said that he is following through with what he traditionally likes to do which is to visit with all the Town Councils in his district, at least on a semi-annual basis if not an annual basis. As they prepare for the next legislative session in January, Mr. Aylesworth believes that he represents a majority of St. John. Hal Slager represents the other portion of St. John, and State Senator Neimeyer has all of St. John, as he understands it. So, before he gets started he wanted to pass out a few things that he thinks has “the good news and bad news” for the Council’s reading pleasure. Mr. Aylesworth passed out the reading material.
Mr. Aylesworth said that he is very, very proud to be a part of the State of Indiana, and its legislature; as they brought Indiana from quite a distance behind where it should be in the state of the art of governance. Last year was one of the more significant years that they ever had in the legislature. They had a triumvirate of working together with the Speaker of the House, the President Pro-Tem of the Senate, and the Governor. He thinks it is because none of them have a “short-man syndrome.” One of them is 6’5, one is 6’6, and the other is 6’5. When he stands with the three of them, he is the shortest guy there and he is 6’3. So, they seem to all get along together. They had an excellent session. They passed the most significant internal improvement program with Road Bill and Bridges Reconstruction Bill in the modern history of the State. Billions of dollars were committed. They are fully funded on a Highway program through the year 2030, unless something goes upside down. In the past, they have had to do a special appropriation out of the State’s General Fund, which are monies that should have been spent elsewhere, to the Highway department. The money that is coming in through the new Gas Tax, half of which will go to local communities, the other half will go to INDOT. The locals will be counties, cities, and towns.
Mr. Aylesworth asked Ms. Hernandez if she has gotten her first check back from the State Auditor’s office yet, for the new taxes with the new adjustment. Ms. Hernandez said that she had just recently received it. Mr. Aylesworth said that it usually comes in December, the first disbursement, and he was telling President Forbes that the good news is that once you get a couple of months of flavor of the increase, then you can do your planning for the next road building season, and do the repairs that are going to be needed. In the legislature, they discussed this, and they were very adamant in the House, because many of them came out of local government like Mr. Aylesworth did, as a County Commissioner and County Councilman in Porter County. He understands the importance of funding local road improvements. The Senate was not as enthused about doing that. In fact, they wouldn’t give in. They told them, quite frankly, that they were prepared to go into extra innings; special sessions if necessary, if they didn’t get the funding for local units. It was a spirited discussion between the houses and the branches. The Governor signed on early on for the Road Improvement program, and Mr. Aylesworth is very proud to stand here tonight to say that it successfully passed.
The way gas prices bounce all over the place, he has not had his first complaint from local citizens about the rise in the tax. No one likes to raise taxes, let alone a Republican legislature, but they needed to do this for the sake of the local Capital Improvement Program and the Indiana Capital Improvement Program. So, he was very, very proud that the Bill passed, and even the minorities on both sides spoke gingerly about it. They didn’t “harang” about it. They understood the need for it too. The really great thing about it was the opportunity for all three units to work together in a friendly spirit of comradery. Which, the State Legislature, in the past, has not always had that feeling, but they are very respectful of each other. They treat each other as adults. They don’t yell and scream even though they may disagree.
Mr. Aylesworth referred to the little cheat sheet he brought tonight. He said that when the current Speaker of the House came in 2002, he listed Indiana’s Decade of Neglect. Our economic rankings; we had fallen from sixth in the Nation to forty-sixth for job creation. We were first in the nation in job losses. We were the only state in the nation with a net loss for tech-jobs from 1996-2002. We were dead last in economic momentum. We were last, fiftieth in the nation, in the percentage of our workforce in executive, managerial, and administrative positions. We had experienced a drastic brain-train with a net-loss of 96,000,000 college graduates, among them are Mr. Aylesworth three sons. None of them live here. People were leaving the State. We were first in the nation for home foreclosures, first in the nation of personal bankruptcies, first in the nation for percentage of increase in welfare enrollments, and after the years of over spending, Indiana had a 1.3 billion dollar deficit in its budget. Mr. Aylesworth asked if that sounded familiar from across the state-line? Those of us that are in politics know that there’s an answer. You can solve that by “tough love,” and Governor Daniels led that out of the box. He drastically cut state government and its employees, balanced the budget, made people accountable for their work product, and with the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate embarked on a rather ambitious program to turn the State around.
On the second sheet it has, “What’s great about Indiana today”. Mr. Aylesworth said that he won’t go into every one of them, just a half dozen that they are really proud of. Indiana ranks first in the nation in US News and World Report’s Best States for Governance. Number two, Indiana is first in the Midwest and fifth in the Nation in Chief Executive Management’s Annual Best and Worst States. Indiana ranks second in the Nation for Economic Outlook at ALEX. That is the National Association of State Governments, in rich states or poor states. Indiana ranks first in the Midwest and seventh nationally in the area of development. In top states for doing business, we are first in the Midwest and eighth nationally in the Tax Foundations, 2018 Business Tax Climate Index and first in the Midwest and second in the nation for software job growth. The tech jobs pouring into Indianapolis right now are remarkable. Salesforce just relocated there. Infosys, another company from India, just relocated there. Mr. Aylesworth said that he and his wife were amazed the other day when they were looking around for an apartment for session. The apartments are filling up fast with people coming from all over the United States to fill the tech jobs. We used to be abscess of technical jobs. We weren’t known for that. The climate of the legislature has turned that around, and he has heard the Speaker talk about it so often.
Mr. Aylesworth acknowledged that they are not a perfect State. They have a long way to go on other things that are going to be addressed this session, which includes trying to improve the ability for local communities to improve their water infrastructure, which is drinking water and wastewater treatment. That area has been neglected for way too long, and they would really like to see the waters of the State become more drinkable, fishable, and swimmable. That is a big challenge, but they have done things over the decade here and turned things around. They want to do that again.
Mr. Aylesworth said that he just wanted to provide a scorecard of how things are going. He can report that the bickering down there from last session has ceased. Mr. Aylesworth said that he’ll tell a little side to the story. At the beginning of every session, they send a little flyer out and ask, “What are your priorities as an individual legislator in the House?” Mr. Aylesworth responded by asking to please keep their business out of the living rooms and bathrooms of people’s houses. In other words, morality issues. You don’t change people’s minds by arguing that kind of stuff in a public forum of the legislature. It leads to no good end. He requested to focus on the things that are really important to communities. That is the infrastructure. That is what they hope to do this time with wastewater and drinking water issues. Of course, they have the Opioid conflict they have to deal with. There are several other issues on their agenda. Beer sales on Sunday; the public is 63%, Statewide, in favor of allowing that to happen. Cold beer sales at liquor stores probably won’t happen for a year or two yet. As far as Sunday liquor sales, we are the only state in the Midwest that doesn’t allow that anymore. We are the only State in the nation, out of all fifty states, that regulates the temperature of beer sales.
A little aside, Mr. Aylesworth was at a festive party in Chesterton the other night, and the grandson of the Head of the State Alcohol and Beverage Commission in the late 1930’s under Governor McNutt, told Mr. Aylesworth that one of the reasons Indiana has such restrictive Alcohol Laws is that they almost lost the state to the “drys” or the people that wanted prohibition. It was done by states. In the 1930’s there were strong movements, a temperance movement, and so in order to keep Indiana so that it did have some liquor, and discourage some of the crime that went with the boot-legging, they restricted the use. They made it very tight. Of course, once things lock in to government, government moves at glacial speed. It takes a long time to change. Mr. Aylesworth shared that within the House Caucus, there were 70 of them in the Republican Caucus, and they talked about this last session. Things are going to change because they know that they need to do this for many reasons. One reason Mr. Aylesworth can think of is that when he goes to Target on Sunday, and this woman who is a single mom is shopping with her kids and she wants a bottle of wine; she can’t buy it on Sunday. That is sort of silly. All of the other states allow that, so they are going to address it at session.
Mr. Aylesworth said that he won’t belabor too many more points, and asked if there is anything the Council would like to visit with him publicly about. He asked if everyone had his contact information and mentioned he had business cards that he can pass out. Other than that, he wishes everyone a Happy Holiday, and he looks forward to working with the Council with any issues that come up during Session.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. There were none.
Mr. Forbes thanked Mr. Aylesworth for coming and visiting with us, and told him that he is welcome any time.
Mr. Bugariu said that he has lived in St. John for almost 41 years. He never had trouble in any town or in any state that he has lived in except for the Town of St. John, Indiana. Two times he has had trouble with the Clerk’s office. It was with Ms. Hernandez, not too long ago, and Chief Kveton knows what was going on there. The second incident, prior to that, was when he went from the Clerk’s office into Steve Kil’s office. Mr. Bugariu said that Mr. Kil had his head down, the way he does when he talks to you. Mr. Kil said that he could not fire “this guy” because he was his boss. Mr. Bugariu walked out of Mr. Kil’s office and was arrested. He spent eleven days in Lake County jail, and he didn’t know for what reason. Mr. Bugariu said that Mr. Fryzel, at that time, was the Town Council President. Ms. Teibel was the Vice President of the Town Council.
Mr. Forbes interrupted and said, “Okay. Alright.” Mr. Bugariu raised his voice and said, “No, we have to speak. We got three minutes, right?” Mr. Bugariu continued that he was arrested and sent to Mississippi. The police then broke into his house, busted his locks and stole incriminating evidence like pictures and diaries that he had gathered against the Town of St. John and the St. John Police Department since 1977.
Mr. Bugariu told the Council that these things should not happen anymore. He said that he has never committed a crime. He served for three years in the U.S. Army, was Sergeant, and had an honorable discharge. Mr. Bugariu said, “And to be a jailbird?” He said that he bets he is the most arrested person in the Town of St. John Indiana, in Lake County Indiana. Mr. Bugariu added, “For what? Using Jerri Teibel to file charges?” Stopped, took my camera, which was incriminating, because Jerri Teibel put a restraining order on me for stalking.”
Mr. Bugariu addressed Mr. Barenie. He asked him if he remembers when they were in the street at his house. Ms. Teibel came with her little white poodle, stopped across the street, and you two made some comments, which Mr. Bugariu is not going to repeat. What happened that day is between all of them. It is not for the people to know exactly. She did the stalking, and Mr. Bugariu got arrested and his camera taken.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Mr. Swets told the Council that he would like to speak tonight against the petition to re- zone the Lance property development off Cline Avenue. He knows that they have been through this once before, so he is going to try and make it as brief as possible.
The Indiana Code, in many places, talks about the need for towns to have a plan and to have rules, and the Town of St. John does have rules. The rules that were just adopted this past year make it very clear, on page 17 Article 5, Point 5, it states that the Commission shall not further consider any re-zoning petition that is defeated by the Town Council for one year after it is defeated.
Mr. Swets said that he would like to see all the single-family homes in St. John stay R1. He thinks that is one of the benefits and advantages of St. John. We have large lot sizes. Over the past few years, the Town Council has done many things to minimize that and to take away some of that advantage, but we need to keep that difference. It will keep our property values up, and it will make St. John a town with advantages over neighboring towns when families are deciding where to move for their next home.
Mr. Swets said that he also thinks that if the Town Council approves this tonight, they will be setting a precedent that will be repeated over and over again. Every time a motion is defeated, it is going to come back time after time. Mr. Swets is asking that the Council not approve this tonight.
Bryan Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive
Mr. Blazak said that he is going to echo what Mr. Swets has said. As of August 2, 2017, he believes that Mr. Austgen and/or his associates put together the rules and regulations for the Plan Commission. He asked Mr. Austgen to please correct him if he is wrong. They went into effect August 2nd as brand new. As Mr. Swets mentioned, Article 5 Item 5 says, “The Commission shall not further consider any re-zoning petition that is defeated by the Town Council for one year after it is defeated.”
Mr. Blazak does not know why the Council is here voting on a petition that was defeated in August. Mr. Austgen was asked a question in regards to “any” re-zoning petition. Mr. Austgen sent two letters that probably cost the Town another several hundred dollars, making up reasons why that rule should not apply. When in fact, the statement is simple. It says further consideration on “any re-zoning.” Now, Mr. Austgen provided the Planning Commission with an excuse to not follow the rule by saying that there were major changes.
Mr. Blazak reiterated that the rule does not say that. Item 5 is one sentence, and it says “any re-zoning.” So now, Mr. Austgen gave them wiggle room, so that they can call it a new development and here we are again, four months later, waiting for the Council to vote on the same thing all over again. It may not be identical because they changed a few of the measurements, and they deleted two lots. Mr. Blazak said that he doesn’t believe that these rules should be ignored just because it suits somebody on the Planning Commission.
Dan DeYoung, 8720 Cline Avenue
Mr. DeYoung said that he is also here to speak about the Lance subdivision. He spoke last time, and actually, at both Plan Commissions. As Mr. Swets and Mr. Blazak mentioned, the Plan Commission rules state that it should not be brought to the Council again because it has already been turned down by the Council per page 17, Article 5, Item 5. The changes are minor. Mr. DeYoung has compared both plans. They made two lots in the front, which Mr. DeYoung thinks wouldn’t work anyhow because of the setbacks in the road.
At the last Plan Commission meeting, Mr. Lance commented that the average lot size is close to R1. In reality, due to comments like the front lots are part of the subdivision, but they are much larger; there are existing homes on them. That kind of offsets and the detention pond areas, which offsets the overall area. There are actually very few lots in this subdivision proposal within the R1 requirement here per the Town’s Ordinance.
Also, as Mr. Aylesworth mentioned, sometimes tough love makes the State better. That applies here too. The Town Council has put together rules wanting R1 subdivisions to make the Town better. Yet, they continue to relax on that with allowing R2. If this subdivision goes R2, then the subdivision, not on the books yet, but on the northwest corner of 93rd and Cline will be going R2. We have already heard that it will be. So, the Council keeps changing the rules. Mr. DeYoung said that he’s not sure why rules are made if the Council is going to keep doing that. He requested that the Council please consider keeping the Lance subdivision R1 per the Town’s requirements.
Mr. DeYoung said that the other interest that he has is that this subdivision will drain through Mr. DeYoung’s property. It says non-delegated waterway, but there is a ditch in the back of his property. The subdivision behind Mr. DeYoung already drains into it. The detention pond, as he mentioned before, and he would like the Town to take a look at, has already flooded over twice within the first ten years of it being there. So, there’s issues with that, and when it floods over it continues to deteriorate the ditch. They have already lost three large oak trees due to the ditch meandering and due to the water flowing here. The more homes we have, the greater the impervious area of the subdivision. Now, grass is going to be throttled through the detention ponds, but the detention ponds are also being placed next to an easement that the pipeline has. It goes right through the center of this property.
Mr. DeYoung thanked the Council for their consideration.
Kathy DeYoung, 8720 Cline Avenue
Ms. DeYoung introduced herself, and said that she is Dan’s wife. She said that she just wants to reiterate the things that we have already heard. She is in agreement with these comments. She said that she just wants the Council to think carefully about the amount of traffic, also, that is on Cline Avenue and how important it is to keep these subdivisions R1. All along there it is all unincorporated. All of those lots are either five or ten acre parcels with single-family homes. This was annexed, all of a sudden, and there was this little piece right in the middle. Ms. DeYoung said that they had talked, at the previous meeting, about the amount of traffic that would come out of that neighborhood onto Cline. She said that she actually sat at the end of her driveway trying to make a left turn to go north on Cline just last night. It was eight o’clock at night, and she could not make the left turn. She waited, and waited, and waited. It was just one car after another, and that was eight o’clock. That is not even the busiest time of the day. She just wants to make sure people are safe. They are treacherous roads. The County doesn’t take the greatest care of them, so it is pretty slick. Ms. DeYoung reiterated that she would appreciate the Council keeping this subdivision R1.
She said that Mr. DeYoung mentioned the draining issues. They are not only in the back but also along this pipeline area. If one were to come over on a day that it rains heavily, there is a river going across where that pipeline area is. This is true even with the little ditch they have going under their driveway that has eroded over the fifteen years. So, there is a lot of water coming through there. She thinks that the surface area of the roofs, and the additional concrete, and so forth is just going to increase the amount of water running off and not soaking in.
Ms. DeYoung said that she would leave it at that, and that she would appreciate it if the Council would keep this as R1. St. John was on the news as the number one community. This is a great place to live. It is a great place to raise a family, so don’t give that away.
Diane Matthews, 8923 Cline Avenue
Ms. Matthews said that she is right at the corner of Cline Avenue and 89th Place. She and her husband built their house, and she has been in that house for 48 years. There has been one accident in front of her house. That was three years ago. The main problem she sees is traffic. She realizes the County has a large area to cover, but they could sit in her driveway and just watch how the cars are speeding. If the road gets patrolled a little bit more than what it has been…
Ms. Matthews said that the problems Mr. DeYoung discussed didn’t just develop now. It is called maintenance of your property. If the driveway is eroded, fix it. She is by herself now, and she doesn’t hesitate to go out and do due diligence to keep the ditch clean. That is her job. As far as the drainage behind there, that should have been taken care of before, not with this property being developed now. That could have happened a long time ago, but now all of a sudden it’s become an issue. Mr. DeYoung should have maintained it.
Mr. Bugariu began to speak from his seat. Mr. Forbes asked him to please stop speaking out of order. Mr. Bugariu continued to speak from his seat. (unintelligible) Mr. Forbes told him that he is seriously requesting that Mr. Bugariu stop speaking out of order.
TJ Frazer, 9136 W. 103rd Street
Mr. Frazer said that he lives in the Gates of St. John. He said that he is concerned about Joliet Street where it comes off onto Rt. 41. He has seen more and more traffic lately coming up and down that street now. A stop sign or a stop light is needed because it is almost impossible to make a left-hand turn there. It is hard enough to make a right hand turn. Consideration needs to be given to doing something to help control that traffic a little bit more to make it safer.
Waste Management of Indiana, LLC.
Mr. Austgen stated that the first bid being opened was Waste Management of Illiana LLC. They provided, in this bid package, a bid response form. Number one says no bid. Number two says no bid. Number three says no bid. Number four says $150 per pull and $44 per ton, and that is for the 30-cubic yard dumpsters in the event the Town uses more than 110 in a year. Two hundred and fifty dollars per 20-yard roll off related to the Town and $150 per pull and $44 per ton of street sweepings. Alternate bid with five collection days is $21.25 per month per dwelling.
Mr. Kil asked Mr. Austgen to please repeat what he just said. Mr. Austgen repeated $21.25 per month. Mr. Kil clarified if that was for five collection days. Mr. Austgen repeated for five collection days for weekly-unlimited refuse, yard waste, and recycling. Unlimited pick-up including heavy house-hold trash five days per week.
Mr. Austgen stated that Form 96 is present, completed, executed including oath, affirmation, and non-collusion affidavit. Bid bond is present for five percent of the amount bid.
Mr. Austgen said that the second bid opening is for Republic Services.
Mr. Austgen stated that the bid form states $17.35 per month per dwelling unit for weekly-unlimited pick-up. It is $17.35 per month for Monday of each week; single day collection and/or $17.35 per month per dwelling unit for weekly-unlimited pick-up for two days per week. They specify Monday for single-day. On Monday, for the east side of Rt. 41, and on Monday for west side of Rt. 41.
Mr. Kil clarified if it is $17.35 for everything; either way, whether it’s Monday one-day or the two days. Mr. Austgen responded that is how he reads it.
Mr. Austgen continued $350 for an additional 30-cubic yard dumpster if the Town has more than 110 use in a year. $300 for 20-yard roll off.
Mr. Austgen read Alternate Bid 1 is an option that is inclusive of a 96-gallon wheeled cart, and an additional 96 or 65 gallon wheeled cart for recycling. Recycling is picked up every other week, and trash continues to be picked up every week. Year 1 - $15.18 per unit/per month, Year 2 - $15.64 per unit/per month, Year 3 - $16.10 per unit/per month, Year 4 - $16.57 per unit/per month.
Mr. Austgen said that Alternate Bid 2 is as follows. This appears to be a four-year, flat rate proposal. The four year average for this option is $17.26 with savings of $0.09 per household/per month. The Year 1 – $16.50 per unit/per month, Year 2 - $17.00 per unit/per month, Year 3 - $17.50 per unit/per month, and Year 4 - $18.03 per unit/per month. Then there is finally $50.33 for the Town street sweepings with a twelve-ton limit.
Bid bond is present. Form 96 is present; it includes an executed oath affirmation, oath affidavit, a non-collusion affidavit and affirmation as well as significant other information.
GMI Recycling Services
Mr. Austgen opened the third and final bid from GMI Recycling Services. He read the bid response form and stated it was for the period May 2018 to May 2022—$15.00 per month/per dwelling-unit for weekly-unlimited pickup/weekly recycling, including Monday as the single day collection. Two: $12.85 per month/per dwelling unit for weekly- unlimited once per week pick-up including Tuesday as the single-day collection. Three: $12.50 per month/per dwelling-unit for unlimited pick-up, including two days per week, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday is the east-side of Rt. 41 and Wednesday is the west-side. $275 per additional 30 cubic-yard dumpster. The Town would bring in 130 dumpsters. $200 per 20 yard roll off. $50 per ton – street sweeping.
Form 96 is present. It appears to be executed and includes oath affirmation, non- collusion affidavit; notarized. E-verify affidavit is present. Iran energy certificate; denial certificate is present. Appendix A is a recap of the bid amount just read. There is a sealed envelope with a certified check number 414060 drawn on Countryside Bank payable to the Town in the amount of $50,000. A second check number 118308 dated December 14, 2017 drawn on People’s Bank in the amount of $8,500 payable to the order of the Town; presumably for the bid bond. Mr. Kil agreed it is probably for the bid bond. Mr. Austgen said yes, calculated. He said that it is included, and it is in the possession of Ms. Hernandez.
Mike Gelatka, 9102 Maplewood Street
Mr. Gelatka said that he appreciates the consideration of the project. Hopefully the vote here goes well, and we keep moving forward. If there are any questions he is happy to answer them.
Mr. Forbes asked the Town Council members if they have any questions. There were none. Mr. Forbes noted that this has a favorable recommendation from the BZA. Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion for the use variance. “I’ll make a motion to approve the use variance,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Jorgensen to incorporate the findings of fact. Mr. Jorgensen stated that he incorporates the findings of fact to his motion. Mr. Forbes noted that the motion has been amended. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays— none.
Mr. Forbes said that he is betting that there are a few people up here who really want to do that. Mr. Kil said that he thinks Mr. Forbes might get an affirmative motion on this. Mr. Forbes said that he is pretty confident about this one.
Mr. Forbes asked if anyone had any questions. Hearing none Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion to accept the grant agreement and authorize the Town Council President to sign the same. “Motion to accept the grant agreement and authorize the Town Council President to sign the same,” by Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Austgen explained that this is a recognition action by the Town Council in a public meeting for a two-year period to explain and justify that these general circumstances exist, and that the general plans are in place. It is in furtherance of our drawing of the funds that are now available to us by the elections that were made.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes stated that he would now entertain a motion to adopt the updated Capital Improvement Plan. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions or thoughts on this. Mr. Kil told Mr. Forbes that his authorization of this tonight, and participation, is going to, by default; authorize Mr. Austgen to begin working on the Joint Interlocal Cooperation Agreement and the Resolution to adopt that. Therefore, by authorizing this project we are going to authorize Mr. Austgen to begin on that, so we can get moving on it.
Mr. Forbes asked if that is what occurred 109th and Calumet. Mr. Austgen answered affirmatively and added this is going to synchronize all of the construction activities and road infrastructure improvements.
Mr. Jorgensen asked for clarification on an appropriate motion to enter into a Joint Interlocal Agreement. Mr. Austgen said that he thinks that Mr. Jorgensen will want to direct the drafting of the agreement. County will consider this once they have the document in their hands. Having the document so everybody can take public meeting action appropriately is what this is about. Mr. Jorgensen said that maybe more importantly besides authorizing Mr. Austgen to go forward with it; we are all agreeing that we will pay the estimated project cost of $40,375. The Town Council agreed that is correct.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that he would move to participate in the project, to contribute 28% of the estimated project cost which is, of now, $40,375, and to have Mr. Austgen move forward with the Joint Interlocal Agreement for it. Mr. Forbes asked if everybody understood the motion. Mr. Volk said yes. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Volk made a motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1665. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion.
Mr. Forbes was notified that Mr. Lance had approached the podium. Mr. Lance stated that he did not realize the Council was going to vote that quickly. Mr. Forbes said that it “just kind of shot right through.”
Mr. Forbes asked all in favor to say, “Aye”. Mr. Jorgensen opposed. The motion was carried by voice vote (3/1). Ayes—three. Nays—one (Jorgensen).
Mr. Forbes said that they are then authorizing December 22nd as a holiday. Mr. Kil said that is correct. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes—four. Nays—none.
Mr. Hastings informed Chief Kveton that there were two great big trucks that ran down Patterson from Wall Street. Chief Kveton responded that, as he has already told Mr. Hastings, he was sitting in Mr. Hastings’ driveway the other day for a period of time, and he ended up writing a ticket for a semi-truck going northbound. He did notice, yesterday morning, that the “10-ton truck route sign” had been damaged. Chief Kveton said Bob Davis is going to put that back up. Chief Kveton acknowledged that the trucks are taking Patterson as a short-cut. Mr. Hastings said the reason he brings this up is because when the road was repaved, they pounded the road down really good, but it is still cracking up. If those trucks get on this road, they can move that blacktop at anytime. This is why he is so concerned; he watches that road a lot.
Mr. Volk inquired about Board and Commission appointments. He asked Mr. Kil how they stand on applications. Mr. Volk asked if they should advertise. Mr. Kil asked Mr. Volk if he would like to advertise for additional applications? Mr. Volk said that he doesn’t know. That is what his question is. Do they need to advertise? Mr. Kil said he supposes he could. Mr. Volk asked again if they have any applications. Mr. Kil said that the applications that they have now are a “little older”. Mr. Kil mentioned that they do have people that periodically send in applications even without advertising.
Mr. Forbes said that it can’t hurt. Mr. Kil said that if Mr. Earnshaw [Times Reporter], who is present, would be kind enough to put a little blurb in the paper to let everyone know that they are accepting applications for Board and Commissions appointments. Mr. Kil said that he thinks there are openings on every Board and Commission. Mr. Volk said that there are. Mr. Kil said that if Mr. Earnshaw could include that as part of the article that would be great.
Mr. Kil said that there is an editable PDF application on the Town’s website. Anybody can fill that out, and then email that right in. Mr. Kil will make sure that it gets to the Town Council, or he’ll give it to Ms. Hernandez and she can distribute it; either way.
Mr. Volk asked if Mr. Kil could give the Council the applications he has now. Mr. Kil said there are a couple. Mr. Jorgensen added that they usually take this up in January. Mr. Forbes said that gives one month to get some applications in. Mr. Jorgensen said that some people he has talked to that are interested, don’t have their applications in yet. So, they could take it up again in January. Mr. Kil said that, as they come in, he will make sure they are distributed, and he is sure Ms. Hernandez will do likewise.
Mr. Jorgensen said that it is not on tonight’s agenda, but he had the understanding that Chief Kveton has a proposal to make that was passed by the Police Commission and was sent via email today. Mr. Jorgensen told Chief Kveton that he would like to hear about this tonight.
Mr. Forbes said that he actually spoke with Mr. Barenie, and they would like more time to review the documents that they received. Mr. Forbes said that he would prefer that they did this in January. Mr. Jorgensen said alright, but lets’ at least get it on the record as to what it is. Then, we could go ahead and defer. He thinks that is the way it should go. Mr. Jorgensen called on Chief Kveton.
Chief Kveton said that he does have copies with him, but he can share copies with the Council. He doesn’t know if it was disseminated to them, or if they were copied on it. Mr. Jorgensen said that he has seen it, and he agrees with it. If the Council ends up deferring it, then he guesses they end up deferring it. He told Chief to please go ahead.
Chief Kveton said that he thinks he mentioned, about a year and a half ago, that they have been revamping all of their Police Department policies. He thinks he gave a report about a month or two ago that they were about three quarters of the way done with all of the policies. One of the policies that they reviewed and updated was the Vehicle Operation and Maintenance policy. This policy basically covers all of the different things related to their squad cars; how they are to be used, what rules regulate their use, how they’re to be driven, what should be carried in them (fire extinguishers, spike strips, etc.), how they are to be maintained and cleaned, and when they are authorized to be used. One of the things that they work very hard on is trying to get enough manpower on the street. Which, the Council has been very generous in increasing manpower by one last year. By information that he received regarding the budget, they are going to be receiving another officer this year.
Chief Kveton added that they are always trying to come up with new and innovative ways to get more officers on the street, more preventative patrols on the street, and more preventative visibility on the street. There are many different things that they discussed over the last year like paid traffic enforcement units and a couple of other things.
One of the things was to slightly expand the use of the squad cars to include some off- duty use by the officers to promote security for our citizens and greater visibility by having marked squad cars in the neighborhoods, having marked squad cars in our shopping centers, which, would virtually be, except for gas, a free way of getting an extra body on the street and on the radio in case they were needed. It is a very strict, stringent approach. There are very strict guidelines in the policy, written, so that the officers wouldn’t be abusing this privilege. Chief Kveton said that again, he believes it would give our community and our citizens a lot more visibility. He said that he has probably a dozen different examples that he could share with us of communities, that are within 10-15 miles of St. John, where an off-duty officer was working out at a local gym and he spotted an armed robbery suspect. He gave chase in his shorts and t-shirt, but they are required to carry their radios and guns, thankfully. He was able to take the suspect into custody.
Another example is an off-duty supervisor was on the way home from the grocery store and witnessed a shooting. He took the homicide suspect into custody.
We have an Indiana State Trooper nearby here that was driving off-duty and witnessed an individual crossing the street and collapse in the middle of the street. He jumped out of the squad car, gave CPR, and that person was saved.
Another officer in the Hobart area witnessed a vehicle go into a pond and was able to aide that rescue of that individual. There are many other examples.
Chief Kveton said that he thinks this would be a beneficial crime prevention. In situations where officers are needed, they are responsible and required to respond to emergency calls. He thinks that this would be a very beneficial approach that would assist not only the police department but the community. Chief Kveton repeated that he has very strict rules and regulations in the policy that would be required of the officers. It did pass through the Police Commission pending a change that they made on the disciplinary response if an officer violated this policy, which they made with Mr. Austgen over the last couple of weeks. So, the Police Commission has approved this pending that change. Mr. Jorgensen asked Chief Kveton if this was more or less about police presence in and around our community. Chief Kveton answered affirmatively.
Mr. Jorgensen asked Mr. Austgen if he represents the Town of Cedar Lake. Mr. Austgen said, yes. Mr. Jorgensen asked him if they have a similar policy. Mr. Austgen said that they do. Mr. Jorgensen asked if Mr. Austgen represents the Town of Winfield. Mr. Austgen said he does represent Winfield and they do. Mr. Jorgensen asked if Mr. Austgen represents the Town of Schererville. Mr. Austgen answered that he does represent Schererville and said that they do also.
Mr. Jorgensen asked if it is pretty common place to allow officers to do this sort of thing to increase the police presence within their communities. Mr. Austgen said that it is, and it is viewed in the same way that Chief Kveton has explained here today: additional visibility and heightened sense of law enforcement presence. Mr. Jorgensen confirmed with Chief Kveton that the officers are required to carry their firearms, to be quasi-on- duty. Chief Kveton responded, “to be prepared to act, if they were needed.” He added that all of the squads that would be included in this are patrol units that are marked. So, they would be visible wherever they are parked.
Mr. Jorgensen asked what the geographical restriction is in this policy. Chief Kveton responded that it is Lake County. They could not leave Lake County. Mr. Jorgensen asked that if they did, and there was some sort of violation if it would be handled by him [Chief Kveton]. Chief Kveton said that is correct and the department. He said that basically, if there was a violation, this privilege “could” be immediately taken away. Mr. Jorgensen asked if that meant for an individual officer. Chief Kveton said, yes.
Mr. Forbes stated that they are currently allowed to take their squad cars home. Chief Kveton said that squad cars are assigned to each officer and they do typically take them home, but they are limited and restricted to driving to and from work only. Mr. Forbes said that the presence is currently in the Town, as far as the neighborhoods go. Chief Kveton said, yes, but only parked in driveways, if they live in Town.
Mr. Forbes said that, again, he doesn’t see the emergency in taking action on this tonight, but he will leave it up to the Board. Mr. Jorgensen said that he sees no emergency but he sees it as something for police officers and as a benefit for our Town and our folks in terms of increased police presence. He doesn’t see there being any reason to wait to allow our officers to be able to do this and to have increased police presence.
Mr. Jorgensen said that he was not sure what motion to make necessarily. Mr. Jorgensen then asked Mr. Austgen for his recommendation. Mr. Austgen responded that the motion should ratify the action of the Police Commission and the approval of the SOP that established the revised policy.
Mr. Jorgensen stated that his motion is to ratify the action of our Police Commission and for the proposal of the Chief. Mr. Austgen added also for the approved SOP that has been processed; standard operating policy. Mr. Jorgensen said that makes sense, so he added that statement to his motion. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. Mr. Volk abstained. Mr. Forbes abstained.
Mr. Forbes stated that no action was taken on this motion. Mr. Jorgensen asked, with two abstentions, can the Clerk-Treasurer vote. Mr. Austgen said no.
Mr. Volk said the Council can bring this up next month. He just got this forwarded to him a couple of hours ago. Mr. Jorgensen said that he has had it for a while.
Mr. Forbes asked Ms. Hernandez how the turnout has been at the Festival of Lights. Ms. Hernandez said excellent. Last Saturday, they estimated approximately 350 people, and the Saturday before, closer to 500 people. Ms. Hernandez said that Mr. Kil was there on opening night to see that it was a huge success. The fireworks were awesome. It was a 10-15 minute show. So, it’s growing. Mr. Forbes said that was good.
Police Chief Kveton gave the following report:
From November 1, 2017 – November 30th , 2017 the members of the St. John Police Department logged 20,096 miles and responded to 501 law incidents. The investigation of these led to 22 arrests and 35 charges being filed. They were 352 traffic citations along with 269 written warnings for a total of 621 citations being issued during the month.
We have had a little increase in crime over the past month, which we and most communities experience during the months of November and December. We had $34,313.00 worth of items being stolen. Chief Kveton said that he would ask that instead of reading a very long comment that he had put on their Facebook page, he would ask that everybody please reach out to the St. John Police Department Facebook page. There has been a lot of comments, a lot of conversations and interactions on Social Media; Nextdoor, Twitter, and Facebook regarding these burglaries that we have been experiencing in the last month. Since the beginning of November we have experienced six. We do average somewhere between 16 and 18 per year. Our highest year, I think, was 23. Our lowest year, quite a while ago, was seven, but we do average somewhere in between. So, we are right on par with what we normally average, but it is very difficult to see those kind of things happen. We do not have any information that they are connected with each other, but there is a lot of good tips on that Facebook post. So, if you could please go to our Facebook page and take a look at that.
Here, we are talking about a policy, a few minutes ago. We are trying to get a little more visibility out, but really we have 20,000 pairs of eyes that can help us. We have 20,000 residents. We have 20,000 pairs of eyes, and you know your neighborhoods better than we do. We could be driving by your house, and we could see an individual leaving your house that could be a burglar and we don’t know it. As far as we know that is the resident that lives there. We can’t memorize every house and every resident that lives in town. So, if you see something that looks unusual to you then it probably is. Please give us a call. Chief Kveton said that he would rather send an officer out 100 times and identify the next door boyfriend, or the new boyfriend for next door than, not come out the one time that it’s a burglar. Many times they knock on doors next door after a burglary and a resident might say oh you know I did see something unusual, I saw a person yesterday, but I didn’t want to bother you guys. Chief said, “please bother us”. If you see something suspicious if you see a vehicle suspicious call 911 and have us come out and check it.
Chief Willman gave the following report:
During the month of November 2017 the St. John Fire Department responded to a total of 144 requests for assistance. There were 116 within our incorporated limits of St. John. There were 13 within the unincorporated limits of St. John Township. There were 15 from District Three which is all other destinations including Mutual Aid. Mutual Aid from Schererville with an ALS ambulance for resident medical emergency times 2; with an ALS ambulance for a motor vehicle crash times 2. We went to Cedar Lake Fire and EMS with an engine and manpower for a working residential structure fire. We assisted Lake Hills Fire and EMS with an ALS ambulance for a resident medical emergency times 4. We were in Dyer with an engine and manpower for a residential structure fire, and while we were there our crew assisted with manpower and a residential medical emergency while Dyer was still at the fire. Finally, we were at Lake Ridge Fire Department with an engine and manpower for a change of quarters detail, while they were totally exhausted and incapacitated with two fires at the same time.
Our Monday night activities for the Fire Department during November were a schedule for November was a total department wide commitment; several days and nights of orientation and training with the new E1 quint that arrived at our station on November 13th. We started with two and half days of intense presentations that were provided by the manufacturer of the vehicle. The instructor started with a three hour power point in the training room at the Fire Station. Next, he moved the groups to the garage. Everyone got an introduction to the vehicle live and in person. Finally, we went to the St. John training site and began to get a real-life feel again for the workmanship and unique capabilities that we now have to offer to our customers, our residents, and our neighbors. That vehicle will be a great resource for St. John to take into the future, and St. John Fire is extremely fortunate to have equipment like that to work with.
The rest of the days and the nights in November our members had the opportunity to apply what we have learned and become a little more familiar with the operational techniques on our own. Slowly, carefully, and successfully we are making great progress with that truck. There is more portable equipment to be delivered and anchored into place. We will be responding to emergency situations with it very soon.
(The meeting adjourned at 8:13 p.m.)
Beth R. Hernandez