Warsaw’s Population Growth Will Increase City’s Revenue

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer (L) talks to the Common Council Monday about the city’s jump in population from 2010 to 2020. Also pictured are Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins (C) and Council President Jack Wilhite (R). Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

TIMES UNION REPORTS – Warsaw’s population has jumped 16.6% from 2010 to 2020, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer informed the Common Council Monday night.

For his short presentation, Thallemer got the U.S. Census numbers from https://data.census.gov/cedsci/. He said the information was made available Thursday.

The total U.S. population was 308,745,538 in 2010. That increased 7.3% to 331,449,281 in 2020. Indiana’s population increased 4.6% from 6,483,802 in 2010 to 6,785,528 in 2020. For Kosciusko County, the population increased 3.7% from 77,358 in 2010 to 80,240 in 2020.

For the city of Warsaw, Thallemer said the total population in 2010 was 13,559. The 2020 figure is 15,804. That’s a gain of 2,245 new residents, he said, or 16.6%.

“So a pretty significant increase in the city of Warsaw population,” Thallemer said.

He said while he didn’t get into the demographics, there’s a lot of that available on the website from housing to income data.

“My purpose tonight was just to give you an idea of where we’ve gone in the last 10 years. We’ve talked about our assessed value increasing from our growth and the opportunity to create here in the community is borne out by an increase in our population,” Thallemer said.

The immediate impact of the Census showing Warsaw’s growth, he said, is that the city’s cumulative capital improvement, motor vehicle highway and alcohol beverage commission gallonage taxes are all per-capita taxes that will be increased 16.6%.

“I would assume that our revenues next year would be – at least those three taxes – would increase based on our population, but I don’t know the details and when that takes effect,” Thallemer said, adding he assumed they would start in 2022.

The Census report came after the Council gave the second and final approval to the ordinance for 2022’s appropriations and tax rates. The budget was introduced Sept. 7 and the first reading was Sept. 20.

Thallemer said the Council will have an opportunity to react and make cuts when the 1782 Notice is provided by the Department of Local Government Finance, typically sometime in December.

As a reminder, he said using the current budget with the full assessed valuation, as presented, yields a $1.3285 per $100 of AV tax rate. He said the city saw an AV increase of $36.6 million, which puts pressure down on that rate by 3.5%. The city’s health insurance rate will reduce in 2022 by 6.2%, which will give the city some “significant” room to make some line 1 cuts.

The circuit breaker losses continue to increase, however, he said.

“So, I think last time I mentioned that our current budget is advertised as certainly over the levy. We’ll have to sit down and look at that when the final numbers come back, as is the fire territory budget,” Thallemer said.

The city is soliciting line 2 cuts from the departments, which are any funds available for this year that can be reduced to help the reserves and next year’s budget, he said.

When all is said and done, he estimated the city’s final tax rate will be around $1.23 or $1.24 per $100 of assessed valuation. Thallemer said that’s still below the 2016 rate.

Councilwoman Diane Quance made the motion to approve the 2022 budget, and Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins provided the second. It was approved 6-0, with Councilman Jeff Grose absent. The adopted budget totals $21,249,150; adopted tax levy is $16,620,230 and the total adopted tax rate is $1.4726, according to the ordinance approved.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved a transfer resolution, as requested by City Planner Justin Taylor, for the acquisition of a vehicle for the city’s building inspector. Taylor said a city mechanic said the current vehicle assigned to the building inspector is no longer safe. The three transfers total $20,000.

• Approved a transfer resolution totaling $93,456.85 for the wastewater department’s McKinley storm sewer improvements project.

Utility Manager Brian Davison said the project will relocate a 36-inch stormwater line where the town of Winona Lake is planning to put in a roundabout at the intersection of Argonne Road, Winona Avenue, Kings Highway and Park Avenue. They want to get the storm line in before the roundabout goes in.

Currently, the discharge pipe runs within a couple feet of the foundation of condominiums, so relocating the line reduces the city’s liability should the pipe fail.

The Board of Public Works and Safety awarded the project Friday to HRP Construction Inc. for $678,950.

“The prices are coming in very high, so we’re sort of scaling back the projects we’re able to do this year. We’ve got two projects we’re trying to push into 2021 yet, and this is one of them,” Davison said.

He said the engineer’s estimate was about $450,000, and it came in at $678,000.

“The other project we did was almost double the engineer’s estimate also,” Davison said, attributing the increased cost to the cost of materials.

Thallemer said it’s a “perfect storm” of current supply chain issues, wage inflations, labor costs and so much government money available for projects that there’s not enough contractors to go around.

“So, this is going to be the norm as we move forward, unfortunately,” he said.

As part of the project, there will be a grit separator installed to help reduce contaminants going into Winona Lake.

• Heard three questions from Lakeland Christian Academy sixth-grader James Vetor, 12. He asked if the Seward Johnson bronze statues would return to downtown Warsaw (possibly in 2022 or thereafter, or something similar to Johnson’s work, the mayor responded); if there were Christians in charge of Warsaw government (there are people of faith in charge, but religion is up to each and every person); and what city programs are available for kids (Quance provided a list of Parks and Recreation Department activities).