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Michigan City City Hall

Michigan City City Hall

MICHIGAN CITY — A rare municipal merger won't happen as soon as its proponents had hoped. 

Patrick Donoghue, a Pottawattamie Park attorney, told the Michigan City Council on Tuesday night that there were too many hoops to jump through to make a referendum happen for November.

That pushes it off to 2020, because state law doesn't allow a vote on local government mergers during a municipal election year, which happens next year.

"The process for a merger is complicated, as you might guess," Michigan City Attorney James Meyer said.

Both municipalities would have to discuss terms for a merger. Those negotiations won't happen until fall or winter, Donoghue said.

Because municipal mergers are extremely rare in Indiana, Donoghue said he met with Indianapolis attorney Andrew Buroker, who has experience in that field. Buroker assisted with the failed attempt to merge Evansville and Vanderburgh County and Zionsville's successful merger with Perry Township.

"We're not giving up," Donoghue said. "We're disappointed, but we're going to keep working on it."

A pavement management study is underway, something Michigan City officials want to see, and a cost-benefit statement is in the works as well, Donoghue said.

Among the reasons for Pottawattamie Park's merger attempt is that the town's homes are on aging septic systems.

"We believe the infrastructure is getting to be at its life expectancy," Donoghue said.

Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer has said adding Pottawattamie Park would increase the city's population, and the homes there are in the right price range to meet demand by homebuyers looking at Michigan City.

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Senior Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.