CHESTERTON | The Town Council held a public hearing on a utility rate change during Tuesday night’s meeting and unanimously approved the 6 percent increase.
Chesterton financial consultant Ted Sommer, of London Witte Group, said that despite $15 million of new debt — $11.6 million as a result of an unfunded state mandate to eliminate combined sewage overflows from the Little Calumet River — the increase to each residential customer is 6 percent.
“Why so small an increase with such a large bond issue?" he asked. "Because operating costs have gone down. ... You have a utility that is watching its dollars and cents better now than a few years ago.”
Resident Paul Tharp spoke in favor of the increase to prevent bypassing into the river.
“Department heads, council liaison Sharon Darnell, the Utility Service Board and Utility Superintendent Rob Lovell were critical in making this happen,” Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said.
“From an environmental point of view, it’s the right thing to do and I want to commend the utility board in keeping (the increase) to a minimum,” Council member James Ton said.
In other business, Fire Chief Mike Orlich said his department is in need of reporting software since county 911 service is discontinuing services for the town. The council unanimously approved the expenditure from CEDIT funds.
Orlich also said his department’s district response teams have been dispatched to assist victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The team of local responders left on Nov. 9 and is expected to return on Nov. 24 at the earliest. Orlich said that John Jarka, assistant chief who is with the team, reported the destruction is worse than depicted on television and victims are thankful for the help.
The council passed a parking ban after a 2-inch snowfall for downtown streets at the request of Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg.
Town Manager Bernie Doyle reported Addison Pointe advanced nursing and rehabilitation facility opened last week and will employ some 140 people, many more than anticipated.
Council member Jeff Trout said the facility already has been affecting quality of life for many area residents who have gained employment close to home.