Merrillville clerk-treasurer opposes board expansion

2013-01-10T17:50:00Z 2013-01-10T22:56:10Z Merrillville clerk-treasurer opposes board expansionChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
January 10, 2013 5:50 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | The Town Council didn't agree about the person to appoint to the Stormwater Management Board this week, and now there are differing opinions about expanding the panel.

Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey said he doesn't support a proposal to increase the Stormwater Management Board from three to five members.

Guernsey said each board member receives $100 each month as compensation. He thinks it's not necessary to add two more members and spend an additional $2,400 each year. Guernsey said that money would be better spent on projects to improve the town.

Town Councilwoman Chrissy Barron said Guernsey doesn't have a vote if the matter moves to an upcoming council agenda. She also thinks it isn't Guernsey's place to comment about the issue.

She said funding for stormwater board members comes from the Stormwater Utility's budget and it wouldn't impact Merrillville's general fund.

Guernsey said he also thinks Merrillville should focus on reducing government instead of creating a larger board.

Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said there are no board members from the panhandle area of Merrillville's 6th Ward.

Expanding the board and appointing members who reside in different areas of town could ensure drainage concerns from all town locations are being heard at Stormwater Management Board meetings, Pettit said.

Council members on Tuesday decided to explore the possibility of expanding the board while discussing nominations to fill a board position that expired at the end of 2012.

Councilmen nominated Bud Crist, who had held the seat for about nine years, and Leonard White, a solid waste specialist at the Lake County Solid Waste Management District.

The council voted 4-3 to select White.

Matt Lake, executive director of the town's Stormwater Utility, suggested adding two more board seats could be an option if the town had several qualified candidates.

Councilmen instructed Town Attorney John Bushemi to develop an ordinance that would expand the board.

Pettit said the ordinance would be discussed during a workshop next week.

"We'll see how everything shakes out," he said.

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