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Hobart council expands historic district

HOBART — The City Council on Wednesday approved an expansion of the Lake George Commercial Historic District and established a new fund to be used for redevelopment purposes, but again tabled a proposed change in how firefighters are compensated for emergency medical calls.

Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said the historic district will have a modest expansion, extending down Main Street to include the former police station and down 3rd Street to take in three buildings across from the clock tower.

“Some of the buildings are of historic significance, some aren’t. The historic preservation commission felt this would be a good fix,” Vinzant said.

By becoming part of the historic district, the buildings will be able to receive facade grants and other perks that could help an owner or potential buyer.

Director of Development Denarie Kane said the new fund was needed as a result of the city establishing a vacant building deduction last year.

She said under the deduction, Midwest Service Center was given a tax break for moving into the long vacant Isakson Motors building on Indiana 51, just north of U.S. 6. The deduction also allowed the city to collect 15 percent of those tax savings, with the money going toward economic development.

“The auditor will make a calculation to see how much the city will get, but we want to create a fund so there is a place for the money to go in,” Kane said.

Kane said the amount for now will be miniscule, around $3,000.

In other matters, Councilwoman Monica Wiley, D-at-large, questioned why the council again left on the table a proposed ordinance that would adjust the compensation for firefighters when they also act as EMTs or paramedics.

“What are we waiting for? I want to take a vacation, but my vote on this is very important,” Wiley said.

Councilman Pete Mendez, D-2nd, said he is still waiting for information from Mayor Brian Snedecor and Fire Chief Brian Taylor on overtime figures and how overtime is handled.

The mayor was not at Wednesday’s meeting.

“Saving $35,000 a year is no big deal. Being able to save $150,000 a year in overtime pay is a big deal,” Mendez said.

Mendez said he understands the change in compensation would save the department about $35,000 a year.

Snedecor said recently he’d like to change the pay structure for emergency calls from a yearly stipend to a per-day fee. He said firefighter/paramedics receive $3,600 extra a year while firefighter/EMTs get an additional $1,200 a year.

Under the proposed new structure, firefighters would be paid extra only if they work ambulance calls that day.



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