Merrillville council to air Stormwater Management issues in closed session
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent March 12, 2013 9:24PM
Updated: April 14, 2013 6:34AM
MERRILLVILLE — Councilman Donald Spann, D-1st, Tuesday aired several problems he has with Stormwater Management, from reportedly rude employees to improperly storing town equipment on private property, spurring a call for an executive session to be held next week to discuss the department.
Spann told fellow Town Council members during Tuesday’s regular meeting that he found a Stormwater Management employee to be rude and disrespectful to a resident who had aired flooding concerns at a recent stormwater meeting.
Spann also believes Matt Lake, executive director of Stormwater Management, was disrespectful to Councilman Tom Goralczyk, D-3rd, when Lake dismissed a suggestion by Goralczyk regarding Taft Street at a recent meeting. And Spann again brought up the fact that stormwater equipment was being stored in an outbuilding on former stormwater board president Bud Crist’s property. The equipment has since been removed.
“The equipment was not secure. It was more than $1 million worth of equipment. Some people said he did the town a favor. But I’m a little upset. Someone needs to care,” Spann said.
Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said he too, has some issues, but said the council meeting may not be the right forum. He suggested the executive session be held.
“We’re still the bosses over that utility. We have control over that utility,” Pettit said.
Spann also suggested the administrative secretary position, which was just changed from full-time to part-time, be rewritten to include doing work for the park department as well.
“With the new Union Park being built, it will take a lot of work, a lot of fundraising,” Spann said.
He suggested the secretary make some of those calls.
“I would like to blend the jobs so we can bring some money in for the parks,” Spann said.
“Let’s see if it’s doable,” Spann said after the meeting.
The town purchased property in the 7200 block of Broadway at a county tax sale to be used for the park, with hopes that local unions will help create the park and others will make donations for benches and other equipment.
The town is still in the process of taking applications for the secretary position, which pays $14.28 an hour. The secretary will work up to 32 hours a week, Gorlaczyk said.
Town administrator Howard Fink said applications can be brought to the clerk-treasurer’s office, with applications closing on Friday.
The park discussion led to council members criticizing state legislators for not allowing Merrillville to have any powers to raise additional money through fiscal home rule or a food and beverage tax.
Council President Carol Miano, D-3rd, said Merrillville was denied the food and beverage tax, but legislators allowed the community of Cloverdale to have the same tax.
Pettit said legislators can give $100 million to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but can’t allow fiscal home rule for municipalities.
“IACT (Indiana Association of Cities and Towns) has been lobbying for fiscal home rule for 35 years. Merrillville could have its food and beverage tax, Munster a gas tax. It’s not rocket science,” Pettit said.