Winona Lake Keeping 2021 Budget At 2020’s Figures

(Photo Supplied / Winona Lake Town Council)

The Winona Lake Town Council talked dollars and cents Tuesday, including next year’s budget and a bond agreement for a water line project.

A public budget hearing was held, and a review of the 2021 budget shows no changes from 2020. Town Clerk-Treasurer Kent Adams said the 2020 budget rolled over to 2021 to stay at $5,079,852. The 2021 property net assessed value is $190,211,105, comparable to the 2020 valuation of $179,039,655 – an increase of $11,171,450 or 6.2%.

The current 2020 tax rate is $0.7010 per $100 of assessed valuation, comparable to a 2021 estimated tax rate of $0.6857, a reduction of 0.153, Adams said. No elected council, clerk-treasurer or town employees will receive salary increases, he said.

The meeting to adopt the budget will be at the next council meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 20 in Town Hall.

The council also passed an ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of revenue bonds of the town for the purpose of putting a water line and greenway in out to the new Raccoon Run addition, which will be about 130 houses. The town is developing the water line, and then Indiana American Water will take it over. The bond is expected not to exceed $1.25 million and is payable only through available revenues from the town over 15 years – not through the town levying a tax on residents to help pay.

Jim Higgins, financial adviser at London Witte, said Indiana American Water is not “getting a gift for free” once the line has been established. “They will pay taxes on that line, which it is also our intent for the redevelopment commission to capture those dollars. They’re going to have to pay tax on that line, maintenance on that line … we’re speeding up the process and reducing the cost of getting that line in so the development can occur sooner rather than later.”

Higgins also said that when the bond is sold to a financial institution, the town will include documents that state the town can prepay at any time without a penalty.

“If we have the ability to pay that debt early, we want to take advantage of it,” Higgins said.

Town Manager Craig Allebach said that water hydrants will be placed at every intersection and every 500 feet, which will help reduce insurance rates for homeowners in the area, regardless if they hook into the water line or not.

Also Tuesday, the council:

• Approved a trash and recycling contract to continue with Advanced Disposal for the next three years. Allebach said that means the trash and recycling schedule will remain the same.

• Approved G&G Hauling & Excavating to demolish the pool at Stonehenge Golf Course for $14,993.80.

• Heard from Winona Lake Police Dept. Sgt. Joe Bumbaugh that the department purchased another bicycle from Trailhouse Village Bicycles in Winona Lake to patrol the trails in mostly the summertime. The bike is ordered and should be put into use by next spring, he said.

• Announced the annual Oktoberfest in the Village at Winona is planned for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 26. Interested residents can visit the Village’s website for a complete lineup of events with timelines.

• Heard from Allebach that the town is coordinating with the city of Warsaw for Halloween plans. Allebach said the town expects to reach a decision on what will be happening before the council’s Oct. 20 meeting, possibly anticipating a drive-by Halloween if they don’t choose door-to-door trick-or-treating.