While Warsaw Common Council looks to make approximately a half million dollars in budget cuts for 2013, there was a bright spot.
Mayor Joe Thallemer, just back from the annual conference of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, announced the overall increase for the medical trust was only 7.5 percent and, with the changes the city had already made in the health coverage plan, the most the city will see is a 4.5 percent increase.
“That will save about a quarter of a million dollars from what we had budgeted,” said Thallemer. “We may actually end up paying less than we did last year.”
Increased health care costs was a big concern for the city, which actually budgeted for a 15 percent increase.
That said, the council is still looking to trim the overall bottom line and agreed that at least one area where that would be possible would be in the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory operating fund.
Fire chief Mike Brubaker is asking to hire three full-time fire fighters each year for the next three years. The additional nine fire fighters would be used to staff Warsaw Fire Station 3 that will be built at the southwest corner of County Farm Road and CR 200 South. That station, however, is at least two years away from coming to fruition.
Brubaker explained that each new fire fighter hired in must be trained and serve one year on probation. “We don’t know the exact time frame, but I don’t want to get behind the 8 ball on it. I would like to ramp up (the personnel) over a few years so that when we are ready to staff it we won’t be short on manpower.”
Brubaker’s budget includes approximately $130,000 for three fire fighters to be hired in 2013. The council, however, was in agreement that since Station 3 is not expected to be built for at least another two years, that they would approve the hiring of one full-time fire fighter next year. That individual would be hired to step in when one of the current firemen moves to the position of training officer.
There was also some discussion on the aviation department budget, which was questioned by councilman Jerry Frush. Frush asked if it was really necessary to appropriate $65,000 to lower power lines for a runway expansion. “All the pilots I’ve talked to said it really isn’t necessary,” he said.
The aviation board wants to extended the east-west runway by 1,000 feet, adding 500 feet to each end. That would mean a necessary re-routing of CR 100 East and the power lines to the east of the airport to be lowered for air traffic.
Fellow councilman Charlie Smith, who serves on the aviation board as a non-voting member, defended the project for two reasons. First, he said the vision Warsaw will have years from now is not the vision it has today. “It works now, but in the future it may not,” he explained.
Although Smith said it’s not realistic to think Warsaw will get commercial air traffic, he did say commuter flights for the sake of local industry is important to the community.
Additionally, Smith said the project will be 90 percent paid for with federal funds, 5 percent with state monies, and 5 percent from the local government.
Council president Elaine Call agreed with Smith and noted that the airport’s $90,000 budget is relevant to fuel sales and that she trusts the aviation board’s decision.
Thallemer asked for each individual council member to go over each department’s budget and document their concerns or ideas where costs could be cut. He also asked each department head to review their budget and also make recommendations to the council on areas that should not be trimmed. The results are to be discussed at the next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15.