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Feature Stories for July 27, 2000

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City salary ordinance on hold

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - Union negotiations derailed approval of the city's 2001 salary ordinance last week, when the City Council met to consider approving 3 percent raises for all employees. Mayor James Metros told the council at the July 18 meeting that the attorney representing the city in negotiations with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees recommended delaying approval of salaries until a complete contract is completed. 
    AFSCME represents workers in the city's Public Works Department. 
    "As of right now, we do not have a contract with the union," Metros said. "As of right now, they can't accept the 3 percent." 
    He said raises could end up being 3 percent, "but there's also other issues the union wanted to address. 
    "We don't know what the economic package will be." 
    The council met in executive session July 20 to discuss the ongoing negotiations. 
    Public Works employees voted to join AFSCME in 1999. The contract under negotiation is the first between the union and the city. 
    Attorney Mark Romaniuk, who wrote a personnel policy for the city two years ago, is the city's legal representative at the negotiations.


Residents sound off over possible forced tap-in
Fees to meet IAW requirements could cost thousands of dollars 

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

Winfield - Public tempers flared at the Town Council meeting July 18 when members of the board updated its residents regarding the probability of a mandatory sewer connection. 
    The proposal entailed American Indiana Water (IAW) requiring 235 water taps installed into residential units in the Meadows and Hidden Creek subdivisions with additional taps required along 109th Avenue. 
    Meadows resident Scott Langbarteis said, "There are not many people in the town who are aware of possibly being forced to buy into tapping. Many of us who live here bought our property specifically for the fact that we would not have to use city water but instead have use through wells." 
    The town is proposing a substantial 'tap-in' fee for those who are mandated to get water through IAW. Estimates had ranged from $5,000 to $10,000. 



    Rebecca Melanson, a resident of Trees whose subdivision has been affected the most by water shortage, stated, "We as a town are not looking at short-term solutions in solving this problem because it is much greater than that. We need to realize the aquifers that criss-cross throughout our county are not adequate for the town of Winfield. We have already looked at the community well situation and that has not produced any productive results." 
    Public sentiment stated that a possible solution would be to halt all building in the town and eliminate sprinkling of lawns. 
    Town Council Attorney George Patrick refuted that concern by commenting, "By halting construction we reduce the town's budget significantly which will directly have an effect on residential taxes. What the town needs to figure out is centers around three questions - how will we spread the fee implementation out fairly? who actually needs the water taps? and where should we put the taps?" 
    Town Council President Joyce Furto, who residence is not affected by the water situation, stated, "I do not need to tap into IAW but am willing to hook up to it to help those affected because I do not know if and when this might affect me." 
    Patrick is actively looking at government agency financing to help subsidize the this 'tap-in' solution. 
    IAW will be presenting its case at the next Town Council meeting on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.



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