Working under a midnight deadline, the Warsaw Common Council came to a consensus Monday night to make budget cuts that would keep city taxes from rising and hold the tax levy at the same rate as 2012.
In work sessions earlier Monday afternoon, council members discussed what could be cut from the city’s budget. Tonight, five of the seven council members voted to cut a total of $869,219 from the budget. Elaine Call was the only dissenting vote and Charlie Smith was not present at the meeting.
Taking the biggest cut was the General Fund from which $585,225 was eliminated. The Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory was hit the second hardest with $160,994 in cuts. Of that, $87,206 was cut from salaries and wages. During earlier budget hearings the council agreed to put a hold on the fire department’s proposed hiring of two new firefighters this year.
Also cut from the fire department’s budget was $20,615 in pensions, $10,000 from physicals/wellness, and $38,200 in health insurance.
In addition to the fire department’s health insurance cut, the building and planning, street, police, city council, clerk-treasurer, human resources, mayor, parks, cemetery and aviation budgets also saw reductions in health insurance expenses. The city had budgeted for a 15 percent increase in health insurance expenses but only saw an actual 4 percent increase.
Prior to the final vote, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer explained to those present, “There are two ways you can make these cut. You can either lower your rate, which is what are proposing, or build your cash reserves which does not lower the rate. Our consensus today is … we wanted to level the taxes off.” He added, “We felt our reserves were still in pretty good shape.”
The city’s final budget, per the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, needed to be faxed to the state by midnight.
In other business, Diane Quance was elected the new council president for 2013. She thanked her councilmates for the nomination and the vote of confidence and noted, “I’ll do my best to serve you and hope we can continue to work as a team.”
In a final order of business, a transfer of funds was approved to pay a salary for a janitorial/maintenance position at the city hall. In the past, the council funds and funding from the Wastewater Treatment department paid separately for cleaning services. With the opening of the new city hall, the funding will be combined to pay for one position at a salary of $24,843 and will include maintenance services.
After official business was concluded, Warsaw resident Mike Ragan asked that CR 75 North west of CR 175 East be considered for resurfacing this year. He noted the additional heavy equipment on the road for the new Paths of Deerfield housing addition has taken its toll on the road.
The next regular meeting of the city council will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22. The meeting will not be held on Monday due to Martin Luther King Day.