The Warsaw City Council members presented a budget with numbers that will likely be reduced.
The 2021 budget had a first reading Monday for appropriations, tax rates and salaries were increased by 1% for employees, including police, fire and elected officials.
Those ordinance for the general budget passed on its first reading for $27,719,372. The tax levy income was $15,291,504 and a tax rate was listed as $1.38.
“Our rate this year is $1.17, and it’s showing a rate of $1.38, which sounds ridiculous, and it is,” Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said. “It will be a lot lower than that. We’re still wrestling with what our revenues going to be,” Thallemer said, adding that includes the impact of COVID-19 for the next two years. “We got a lot of work to do to where it’s going to work for our citizens,” he said. “This is basically a not-to-exceed amount. We put the max amount in there knowing that we’re not going to hit that, but that’s what’s advertised for flexibility.”
The adoption hearing for the budget will occur at the Oct. 5 council meeting. Line cuts from department heads and any cuts the council can find will happen up until the state’s budget filing deadline late this year.
The salary ordinances will need to be adopted by Nov. 2 after two readings. As proposed, which is not final, the police chief will make $2,680.77 in a bi-weekly wage; fire chief at $2,680.77 bi-weekly; the mayor, $2,922.52 bi-weekly; and the clerk-treasurer $2,660.16 bi-weekly.
Bike Lane Education
Also Monday, the council approved a month-long bicycle lane education program. In mid-August, a new buffered bike lane was installed on Main Street traveling west from North Colfax Street until it arrives at North Park Avenue. According to Jonny Latsko, assistant city planner, recent community feedback has drawn attention to drivers who are unaware of the intent of the bike lane and driving within it.
The council unanimously approved a temporary deployment of free-standing delineators – which are chest-high cones commonly seen during public events such as First Friday – that will be used to separate vehicles from the bike lane.
The bike lane on East Fort Wayne Street will have them placed along each intersection from North Park to North Bronson, 20 feet from the intersection. The point is to alert drivers that bike lanes are not intended for motorized travel while turning onto Main Street.
Informational yard signs will also be put in place along key intersections to draw attention to the new lanes and direct people to where they can learn more. The program will continue through October.
The council heard that not only are bike lanes being intruded on by motorists, but some residents are putting their trash cans in the lane. Thallemer believes education is the key to getting that resolved.
Latsko said that while it’s great that Warsaw has been deemed a bicycle-friendly community, it’s not great that they only rate at a 2.7 out of 10 when it comes to safety. He said that Warsaw is “cutting-edge” with bicycle friendliess, this rating shows there is room to improve, and that this program is a starting point.
Wishbone Medical Loan
The council also agreed Monday to move $150,000 from the economic development income tax (EDIT) fund to the newly-created revolving loan fund for Wishbone Medical’s use.
Wishbone Medical is run by Nick Deeter and makes orthopedic implants for children. The company is expanding and will rehabilitate an empty building at 100 Capital Drive. The $150,000 loan will sit in escrow at the bank to help Wishbone officers secure other bank loans. They will be responsible to pay the interest-free loan back in two years.
Deeter appeared at the council meeting with executives of the company from several states and one who traveled here from Istanbul, Turkey.
“About 95% of all implants, even today, that go into children, were not designed for them,” Deeter said. “That’s what Wishbone is focused on. I always use the example of total hips. There’s 70 companies in the world that make hips for adults, there’s four that make hips for dogs, and nobody makes hips for children. We’re doing that with the number one orthopedic hospital in the world,” Deeter said. “I’m a fifth-generation from Warsaw. Warsaw is home. I wanted to make sure that my company and Wishbone were here in the Warsaw area, and thank all of you for making that possible.”
Warsaw council members are Mayor Joe Thallemer, Cindy Dobbins, Jack Wilhite, Jeff Grose, Josh Finch, Mike Klondaris, William Frush and Diane Quance.
The next Warsaw city council meeting is Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. and available to view live, online, at warsaw.in.gov.