Gary IT director gets contract extension
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent August 1, 2012 3:26PM
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:21PM
GARY — The city’s Board of Public Works and Safety voted to extend a department head’s contract another six months for more than $50,000 on Wednesday.
Also, the board inked a public-private partnership with a local railroad company to use federal money to retrofit a locomotive.
Michael Berry, who has headed up information systems and technologies since February, will get $52,540 in wages through January. A request for information on Berry’s wages for the first six months was unavailable late Wednesday.
As a contract employee, Berry will not get benefits such as health insurance, but he will not be subject to the unpaid furlough days other department heads, including his supervisor, Controller Celita Green, have faced for several years.
Other department heads, including the city’s corporation counsel and communications director, began their tenures as contract employees before becoming full-fledged city employees recently.
The board also approved an agreement that will transfer $523,716 in federal funds through the city to Gary Railway, formerly part of EJ&E Railroad, to retrofit a diesel locomotive. The “J,” as it was commonly called, was the local railroad bought by Canadian National Railroad several years ago.
Gary Railway is owned by Transtar, which is a division of U.S. Steel.
Gary Railway needed a government sponsor to get a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, said city attorney Niquelle Allen.
“(Gary Railway) needed a sponsor to get the money from the government,” Allen said. “Just like they want to be a good corporate partner, we’re just trying to be a good community sponsor to them in hopes of developing a partnership moving forward.”
The city benefits with cleaner air for residents, and the newly retrofitted locomotive can be used only in Gary, Allen said.