MUNSTER | In rapid order, a quorum of three Town Council members approved a variety of financial items Monday.
Munster Clerk-Treasurer Dave Shafer presented the town’s 2013 advertised budget of about $47.68 million.
“Traditionally, the budgets are advertised high. We don’t want to leave any money on the table,” Shafer said. “We want to capture as much revenue as possible with the certified budget (approved by the state).”
Assistant Town Manager Clay Johnson pointed out some items in the budget before the council’s vote.
“There is built into this budget a 2.75 percent salary increase and a 4.1 percent contribution for insurance,” he said.
The council approved the budget with the expected property tax levy of about $14.49 million and a total tax rate of $1.2358 per $100 of assessed value.
On Tuesday, the budget forms signed by the council members were electronically forwarded to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
The Town Council also authorized the sale of the 2012 Munster park bond issue for $1.97 million. The bonds will be sold in the near future.
As Munster’s legislative body, the Town Council “has the power and responsibility to approve any bonds,” Town Attorney Eugene Feingold told council members.
The single largest expenditure from that amount of money will be $1.25 million for the acquisition of all residential property on the west side of Manor Avenue, north of the gas station to the alley south of Broadmoor, according to a memo from Town Manager Tom DeGiulio.
“The funds in this bond issue will be combined with the $800,000 from 2011 to accomplish this task. The properties will be demolished and the area turned into a green space,” the memo states.
In addition, the Town Council agreed to spend $47,472 for computer equipment, licenses and a Laserfiche system to digitize the town’s documents in the clerk-treasurer’s office. This will provide public access to documents ranging from meeting minutes to historical records, Shafer said.
In other business, the Town Council approved the rezoning of the Munster Christian Reformed Church at 214 Ridge Road to a planned unit development. The move also authorized the town’s zoning map.
The Town Council members also serve as the Munster Redevelopment Commission. During a brief meeting following the council session, the commission approved a change order for Energy Systems Group related to the Centennial Park methane gas-to-energy project.
Before bringing the landfill project online, additional equipment needs to be installed for operations and maintenance of the generator facility, Johnson said.
The three pieces of hardware and software “will allow for interconnection with the electric grid, analyze the gas content and record data."
The nearly $186,000 cost approved by the Redevelopment Commission is eligible for 50 percent reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Energy grant that the town received to help fund the landfill project, Johnson said. The other 50 percent will come from tax increment financing revenue because Centennial Park is in the TIF district.