Warsaw City Council approves tax rate reduction

Warsaw City Council tweaked the city’s 2018 budget and then celebrated a small reduction in the city’s tax rate Monday night.

The move came after the city received word from the state concerning final calculations for revenue and final assessed values, among other factors.

After some discussion, the all-Republican council unanimously voted to make $372,000 in proposed reductions to several budgets. Those include $220,000 from the general budget as well as $15,000 from the airport, $10,000 from cemetery, $41,000 from the parks department and $84,000 from the fire territory’s operating budget.

If council had taken no action, the 2018 rate would have been $1.292 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. With the action, the rate will be $1.272, which is slightly better than the 2017 rate of $1.274.

Mayor Joe Thallemer pointed out that the city’s reserve funds, crucial for unexpected emergencys, are at a good level.

The reserves are at or above 22 percent of related budgets, which Thallemer described after Monday’s meeting as being a “healthy and safe” level.

“We’ve got an opportunity to actually reduce taxes – technically a small amount –  I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that,”

Thallemer said before the council took action on the proposal.

While supporting the measure, Councilman Mike Klondaris expressed concern with the city’s long-term outlook.

Fire Chief Mike Wilson said he felt “comfortable” with how the cuts would affect his budget for 2018, but tempered his outlook with continuing concerns for the need for big ticket purchases in the department.

“As we move forward … I agree with council – we need to look at our projections over the next five years,” Wilson said.

Otherwise, council reaction was positive.

Councilman Ron Shoemaker called the update “refreshing to hear.”

“I like the way things are going,” said Councilman Jack Wilhite.

Councilman Jeff Grose also offered his assessment.

“Considering all forces at work, this is very encouraging and says a lot about years of efforts with department heads all the way down to the guy on the street – our  frontline workers,” Grose said, while also crediting council, Thallemer and clerk-treasurer Lynn Christiansen for their roles.