Gary councilman corrected on EMS-Fire Department merger
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent January 2, 2013 11:14PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:19AM
GARY — One of the council’s biggest detractors of the Fire Department-EMS merger offered a “mea culpa” to the Gary fire chief last week but stopped short of saying the chief was completely clear with her intent.
At-large Councilman Ron Brewer said Wednesday that after his remarks claiming he and the council heard little to nothing about the proposed merger, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson asked him to view a recording of the Sept. 25 Finance Committee meeting where Fire Chief Teresa Everett discussed it. That night, the committee heard from the various department heads as well as continued debate about the city’s recently adopted rental ordinance.
Brewer said he watched the tape and heard Everett talk about the merger, and apologized for intimating that she hadn’t come before the council. But he still contends he didn’t completely understand what she meant.
“The meeting was over three hours long, and other colleagues didn’t catch it either,” Brewer said after the meeting. “(Talk of the merger) was heard, but I thought it was more her vision for the department. I didn’t know it was taking place now.”
The council voted 6-2 to merge the Fire and EMS departments at a special meeting Dec. 28, which saved EMS in the city but forced the layoffs of 15 EMS workers. Brewer and at-large Councilman Roy Pratt cast the dissenting votes.
Also at the meeting last week, the council voted 8-0, with Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st, absent, to approve the new Waste Management garbage contract that reduces monthly garbage fees to $14.40 per month, down from $16.
Gary Sanitary District Executive Director Dan Vicari told the council residents will start seeing their new 96-gallon garbage cans arriving this week, and those 700 homes that received temporary ones should leave them out in front of their residences for pickup.
Delivery of the new cans to every residence will take a month, Vicari said.
In other business, the council voted 8-0 to approve amending the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 3 demolition budget by increasing it to $600,000, or half of the $1.2 million it will take to demolish the Sheraton Hotel. Community Development Director Arlene Colvin said other funds are also earmarked for the demolition.
The council voted 8-0 to retain Kyle Allen as council president, while the vote for vice president was split 4-4 between current Vice President Kim Robinson and Brewer. The council will vote again at its Jan. 15 meeting, when Krusas returns.