WARSAW — A resolution authorizing the city to apply for the Stellar Community Designation was unanimously approved by Warsaw Common Council Monday evening, June 6.
Mayor Joe Thallemer stated the resolution will accompany the strategic plan details due July 1 to the state committee. Not only does the resolution state the council and its partners support the application and projects, it also states the city is willing to allocate $450,000 per year from the economic development, redevelopment and various department project funds during a four-year period, contingent upon funding from the Stellar Community Program to be utilized as an investment match.
Thallemer stated resolutions from the county commissioners, town of Winona Lake, Winona Lake Redevelopment Commission and city’s redevelopment commission, did not include financial figures.
Explaining the amount, which will total $1.8 million, Thallemer stated it will be used as leverage to obtain $6.1 million in funds/grants from designated funds, and an additional $4-$6 million in private investments. The $1.8 million is the estimated 20 percent matching funds required on state and federal grants.
“I’m asking for the commitment, but not to allocate the funds at this time. It will be on a yearly basis and you will see it come before you for specific projects in the budgets. You will have the ability to allocate funds or take it out of the budget,” said Thallemer.
Council members expressed opinions, including appreciation for the mayor answering misconceptions. “In the business world if you can invest $1 to get $3 back, it is a good thing,” said Councilman Mike Klondaris.
Diane Quance noted one of the projects is already in the park and recreation department’s five-year-plan. “In the long run, we will be saving money that would be spent anyway on some projects that will use grant money instead of tax dollars.”
Thallemer added the designation will be made in August. Should the city be named, work will begin in September and the city will have three years to access $6.5 million in funds and five years to complete projects. It was noted the projects would be prioritized, with those being shovel ready taking top priority.
Tim Dombrosky, assistant city planner, stated two or three projects could be done per year, with the proposed park and housing projects beginning late next year. The projects will be included in city budgets for approval.
Councilman Jeff Grose praised the administration for its progressive attempt to navigate deep waters to improve the city and the focus. He noted how $1.8 million could capture $11 million. “It is good news for this community, taking $1 for $11, is money used wisely. I’m excited.”
During other business the council approved the financial report for the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission and passed a resolution to submit the report to overlapping taxing units there is no “excess assessed value” in the tax increment financing districts.
A resolution was also passed increasing the amount of county option income tax funds to the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory from $600,000 annually to $700,000 annually. The increase was based on a recommendation by Umbaugh and Associates, making the distribution more equitable.