Porter Town Board members began discussions on the town’s 2023 budget plans at its monthly meeting Tuesday at Town Hall. No actual numbers were released that evening, as financial discussions are said to be continuing between the town and its employees, namely the Highway Department, according to Supervisor John “Duffy” Johnston and bookkeeper Kim Boyer.
The Town Board did announce it would hold a public hearing regarding the 2023 preliminary budget at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, coinciding with the board’s regular meeting. 2023 budget numbers are expected to be reviewed by that date. The town’s adopted 2022 plan reflects $5.770 million in spending appropriations and $1.753 million raised by taxes.
In other news from the session:
*The Town Board announced plans for a local law toward formation of a Porter on the Lake committee to help better manage operations the site on Dietz Road. Councilman Larry White, who serves as a board liaison for POTL, said the volunteer group – expected to be comprised of up to nine residents – would assist the board in various areas, including planning, improvements and maintenance issues; fundraising; and future activities at the lakeside park.
“The committee would be unpaid; people would serve on it, but they would reimbursed (for their related activities),” Town Attorney Mike Dowd said as he reviewed the committee’s structure. “They would have a budget line so, if the town’s interested in creating this committee, we have to do it by local law.”
Johnston said the town is seeking to follow its previously developed master plan for the park.
“They would be looking for other funding besides what we (already) do, with Summerfest,” he said of the town’s annual fundraiser to benefit POTL operations. “They could look for grants. It’s nice the community wants to get involved; I don’t see a problem with this. They would look for ideas; see where the park needs some help and then they can bring that to the Town Board.”
The board said it would discuss the matter further at a planned public hearing on Nov. 7.
•In public comments at the end of the session, Town Board members heard concerns from two residents regarding what they called “unregulated rentals” involving Airbnbs on the 2500 block of Lake Road. The residents, who wished to remain anonymous, said they viewed the operations as “being incompatible with residences,” and cited the behavior of visiting tenants and privacy issues. They suggested the Town Board consider revisiting this activity.
•Town of Porter Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Pete Jeffery said the town oversees Airbnb activities by means of a “Short Term Rental Homes Guide.” The town does not have an actual local law governing such operations.
Available on the town’s website, www.townofporter.net, this document includes the following under the title, “Short Term Rental Homes.”
“Occupancy of a single-family residential premises for a term of no more than 30 days, on two or more occasions during any six-month period. Occupancy shall not exceed two persons for each bedroom, plus two additional occupants. On-site parking as otherwise required by the Town of Porter Zoning Law shall be provided. All laws and ordinances related to the maintenance of single-family homes shall be complied with including, but not limited to, providing wastewater treatment facilities, fire protection systems, compliance with building maintenance rules and compliance with noise ordinances. Any violation shall be enforced by the Code Enforcement Officer, or other person authorized by law to enforce these laws and ordinances. In the event of three or more violations during any six-month period, any fines provided for in this zoning law shall be doubled. Property owners renting their single-family homes on short-term rental basis are responsible to collect any bed or occupancy taxes which may be imposed by state or local municipalities. Short-term rentals are permitted in any district where a single-family residence is permitted.”
The guide goes on to detail a number of recommendations made by the code enforcement officer covering the operation of short-term rentals. These include parking requirements, including RVs; occupancy limits; smoke and CO2 detection systems; fire extinguisher requirements; regulations covering use of swimming pools and spas, guest registry requirements; requirement of a local contact person and notice of adjacent property owners; privacy requirements; garbage/refuse disposal rules; and guidance covering noise and recreational fires/opening burning.
“The town could consider more definitional areas, to better manage it,” Jeffery told board members. (At present), the town does not have a permitted use (law on these). Others do.”
Jeffery said he estimates the number of Airbnbs currently operating in the town to be between 30 and 45 units.
Town Board members indicated they would consider reviewing the matter in the future.