Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer gave his annual State of the City Address last night noting “revenue sources” may be the biggest challenge the city faces amid a sluggish economy and proposed legislation to eliminate property tax.
Recapping 2013, the mayor outlined the city’s six strategic goals he described as “somewhat of a blueprint to our future.” Those goals are:
1) Growth Management. “Perhaps the most important initiative,” Thallemer said, and the reason why city leaders employed an outside agency to update the city’s comprehensive plan. The plan, which will be ready for public presentation within the next month, details guidelines for land use and transportation planning.
2) Business Retention and Expansion. The city continues to utilize abatement and Tax Increment Financing to facilitate business retention and expansion. Proposed legislation to eliminate the business personal property tax, Thallemer said, would mean communities like Warsaw would not only lose funds critical to TIF development, they would have no incentives to offer businesses.
3) Business Attraction. “Business attraction is a strategic initiative that demands proactive planning to not only physically house a new industrial partner, but also provide a livable home for their employees,” said Thallemer. The Warsaw Technology Park is the city’s new proactive project to entice new industry. By May 1, the Tech Park will have the road and infrastructure to service four industrial sites. By year’s end, a 50,000-square-foot shell building will be completed.
4) Downtown. The completion of the new city hall took place in 2013 and Thallemer noted a new downtown parking ordinance — complete with the establishment of more parking spaces — to improve customer parking was put into place. Also, more activities such as First Fridays, a farmers market, car shows and a new art exhibit coming this summer continue to promote the downtown. Meanwhile, the city also continues to look for ways to connect the downtown to Center Lake and Central Park. The acquisition of the former Indiana-American Water facility on North Buffalo Street means the facility will be demolished this spring as part of the connectivity plan.
5) Communication and Process. “Our intention is to be open and transparent,” Thallemer explained, noting the city has determined it is critical to flow information to citizens via media and public meetings.
6) Neighborhood Revitalization. “Nothing is more important than livable neighborhoods,” said the mayor, adding, “citizenship is fundamental to community.” That is why the city has served its residents with trash, recycling and lawn debris services and why it continues to look at ways to improve neighborhoods. This year’s plan is to create a rental registration program designed to identify rental housing with a goal to provide rental inspections to protect both landlords and tenants.
Thallemer also acknowledged the many “local community partners” such as the chamber of commerce, economic development commissions, county government, educational institutions and OrthoWorx for continuing to work toward a common goal of making Warsaw a thriving community.
Other topics of note:
- Husky Trail – This federally funded project will improve one of the heaviest traveled roads in Warsaw. Construction could begin sometime in the second half of 2015.
- Airport Expansion – Another federally funded project to extend the east-west runway is underway. Actual improvements are not slated to begin until 2015 or 2016.
- High-Speed Rail – Warsaw has partnered with communities in three states to raise funds for an environmental study.
- Ride-Walk/Krebs Trailhead Park – Moving toward developing more paths for bicyclists, the ride-walk trail system was completed from West Center Street from West Market Street to Zimmer and the Chinworth Bridge Trail. Krebs Trailhead Park, with restroom facilities, was also dedicated in 2013 on McKinley Street. This year, the trail system including Winona Avenue from Argonne Road to Smith Street to Krebs Trailhead park will be completed.
- Market Street – Plans are to widen the street for parking and for the addition of a 10-feet side path for biking and walking. That project will begin this year.
- Alleyway facade improvements – A vision born of the Ball State charrette, more downtown alleys are getting facelifts and being utilized by businesses.
- Warsaw Storm Water Utility – Established in January, this utility will work to protect lake water quality.
- Fire Station 3 – The necessity to protect a larger, more diverse service area will require the construction of a third fire station on the south side of the city. Site development, manpower and equipment feasibility studies will continue this year.
- CR 300 North Bridge – Reconstruction of the bridge with the addition of a pedestrian lane is being funded by both the city and the county to accommodate residents in the new housing additions and apartment complexes near Shelden Street and CR 300 North.
Finally, Thallemer remembered two lives that were lost in 2013. David Beall “served our city well” as the airport manager for 13 years. Beall lost his battle with cancer. Also, a tragic car accident claimed the life of Mary Ellen Jordan in 2013. Jordan was a local architect whose vision is encompassed in many local projects, including city hall.
To see the entire State of the City address, click HERE.