Merrillville trims 2012 budget again
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 14, 2012 9:02PM
Updated: September 16, 2012 6:20AM
MERRILLVILLE — The town is shaving another $174,000 off its 2012 budget, the bulk of which will come from savings incurred as a result of switching from self-funded insurance to a fully-funded insurance plan.
On Tuesday, the Town Council approved the first reading of an ordinance calling for the cuts, which were made across the board with the exception of the police department. It still needs to be approved on second reading.
The police department already had made deep cuts in its budget.
Council President Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said the council had set aside money in the health fund to pay any possible claims during a several-month period in which it was financially responsible while it was switching to a private plan.
Pettit said there were very few claims filed in that period, resulting in the ability to reduce that allocation by $150,000.
Another $7,000 was saved under administrative secretary, $5,000 under part-time secretary, $3,000 under travel and $2,500 under phone.
“We face this every summer and will continue to face this every summer until something happens downstate,” Pettit said, referring to state legislators’ refusal to lift the tax levy freeze.
Town administrator Howard Fink said these may not be the last cuts the town will have to make in this year’s budget.
In other matters, the council increased its towing administrative fee to $40 and its tow release administrative fee to $35, approved on second reading an ordinance increasing the number of mobile food vendors allowed in commercial areas in town to seven and approved an easement in the 7500 block of Taft Street that will allow the Independence Hill Conservancy District to construct a building with a flow meter there.
A representative of the IHCD said this will allow the district to meet capacity needed as a result of any new development that should take place on the west side of the town.
In a sign that the economy may be showing some signs of improvement, Fink said a few proposals have come across his desk, both residential and commercial, and he’s given some potential developers a tour of the community. He would not elaborate on the names of those potential developers.
“We’re seeing activity picking up. Hopefully, this is a sign that the economy is picking up. It’s a good sign on the residential and commercial sides,” Fink said.