Funds from car auc­tions can be used for re­pairs

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - News - By Gre­gory Te­jeda Post-Tri­bune

Gary of­fi­cials made changes to their poli­cies re­gard­ing the way money raised from po­lice auc­tions of towed ve­hi­cles can be used.

The Com­mon Coun­cil voted without op­po­si­tion Tues­day to ap­prove pol­icy changes that Dayna Ben­nett, the chief of staff to Mayor Karen Free­manWil­son, said would pro­vide more money for the Po­lice De­part­ment to re­pair and prop­erly main­tain the city’s fleet of squad cars.

The de­part­ment has 179 ve­hi­cles, of which 81 are Ford Crown Vic­to­ria sedans that are eight years old or older.

Ex­ist­ing or­di­nances al­lowed for money from the quar­terly auc­tions of cars towed by po­lice and never re­claimed by their own­ers to be used to pur­chase new ve­hi­cles.

But the changes ap­proved by the Com­mon Coun­cil will al­low for main­te­nance of the ex­ist­ing cars, which Deputy Chief Brian Evans said is a pri­or­ity for the de­part­ment to keep the squads in good work­ing or­der.

Ben­nett said the change in mu­nic­i­pal poli­cies likely will cre­ate a fund of about $114,000 an­nu­ally that can be used for po­lice car main­te­nance.

In sep­a­rate ac­tion, the coun­cil ap­proved a mea­sure grant­ing a spe­cial use zon­ing per­mit to Mid­west Self-Stor­age De­vel­op­ment LLC of Val­paraiso, which wants to buy the one-time Ul­tra Foods site on Ridge Road between Col­fax and Cal­houn streets, where a Me­nards store is lo­cated.

The for­mer gro­cery store’s 69,000 square feet of space sits empty, and the com­pany wants to con­vert the struc­ture into an in­door fa­cil­ity con­tain­ing stor­age lock­ers for per­sonal use.

The change in zon­ing sta­tus is re­quired for the new busi­ness to oc­cupy the space.

An­other zon­ing mea­sure also came be­fore the Com­mon Coun­cil, although Gary of­fi­cials con­cluded that no ac­tion was re­quired on their part.

A Gary woman liv­ing in the 4900 block of Rhode Is­land Street had filed a re­quest for a spe­cial use per­mit for her home af­ter state of­fi­cials ini­tially thought she was op­er­at­ing a child day­care cen­ter there. In­stead, the woman was car­ing for her grand­chil­dren at the house. Her per­mit re­quest was for­mally with­drawn on Tues­day.

Gre­gory Te­jeda is a free­lance re­porter for the Post-Tri­bune.

GRE­GORY TE­JEDA/POST-TRI­BUNE

Gary Chief of Staff Dayna Ben­nett, right, and Deputy po­lice Chief Brian Evans urged the Com­mon Coun­cil to ap­prove changes in mu­nic­i­pal pro­ce­dure to al­low for more money to be on hand for re­pairs of squad cars.

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