At the Warsaw Common Council meeting on Sept. 15, the council approved a preliminary draft of the 2015 city budget. The draft proposed a budget of $26,105,081 with a tax rate of 1.4342 percent.
The current budget proposal is not the final draft. Mayor Joe Thallemer explained at the meeting that additional cuts will be made before the final 2015 budget is to be adopted on Oct. 28, after a final reading.
“We typically advertise high,” said Thallemer. “Reductions can and will occur.”
The ordinance passed with a vote of 6-1. Councilwoman Elaine Call was the only objector, citing concerns with some of the rates and the appropriations to the Parks Department.
“We’re certainly not going to pass this budget in the end,” Thallemer said. “There will be a whole lot happening between now and then.”
By adopting the budget ordinance, the council can not adopt a final budget that exceeds the grand total of the proposed budget that was approved last night. Final figures can, and most likely will, be less than the totals accepted at the meeting.
The council also approved Resolution No. 2014-09-02, which would authorize the advertisement of Ordinance No. 2014-09-05 and Ordinance No. 2014-09-06. These ordinances, should they be adopted, would allow the city to issue general obligation bonds for the purpose of acquiring vehicles and equipment for the street department.
The principal amount of the bonds could not exceed $1,200,000. Thallemer also stated that he is working with the Warsaw Board of Works to approve a 50/50 grant with IDM that would providing funding for a garbage truck. “I’d love to get a half-off garbage truck,” said Thallemer.
“This is something I think we should do,” stated Councilman Jeff Grose. “I think this is a move we need to make,” added Councilman Charles Smith.
Call disagreed. “There were a lot of things holding me back from a bond of this sort,” she said. “I was not in favor of having a bond on our taxpayers.”
Thallemer noted the city is currently seeking reimbursement for $333,733.88 that was allegedly embezzled from the city by former street superintendent Lacy Francis Jr. and Pro Form Pipe Lining Company of Mishawaka, but this money will likely go into the CCD fund and not the street department. The mayor also hopes that the city will begin receiving the county option income tax again.
However, the bonds are another option for revenue that the council is exploring. “We have horrible problems with our roads,” said Thallemer. “This is a short-term maneuver that will allow us to grab something now,” added Grose.
Ultimately, Resolution 2014-09-02 passed.
Also at the meeting, the council declined Ordinance No. 2014-09-03, which would have authorized the appropriation of $74,000 from the General Fund to be used to purchase a sign truck. “I’ve asked [the street superintendent] that we not spend the money on a sign truck this year,” said Thallemer.