WARSAW — Tax abatements for Little Crow Lofts LLC, salary ordinances for general employees and fire territory staff and the 2017 appropriations and tax rate were unanimously approved by members of the Warsaw Common Council Monday evening, Oct. 3.
The tax abatements are a 10-year tax abatement on real property improvements on the former Little Crow property at 201 S. Detroit St., and a three-year abatement on an existing vacant facility. The company will be spending roughly $6.4 million to rehabilitate the former Little Crow manufacturing facility into 42 affordable housing apartments.
Jeremy Skinner, city planner, recommended granting both tax abatement requests. Kevin McDonell, vice president of development for Common Wealth Company, spoke about the company and status of the current Warsaw project. He noted one of the biggest hurdles is receiving the historic tax credit. The company recently received project approval from the state historic preservation office to move forward and are awaiting granting of funds from the National Park Service.
McDonell explained there will be seven one-bedroom lofts and 35 two-bedroom lofts constructed to promote the workforce and downtown housing. The building will include a community room, exercise room, billiard room and onsite property manager’s office. This project will “redevelop a blighted vacant location to support the heart of the downtown,” said McDonnell. It was stated work on rehabilitating the building could begin in early November.
Salary Ordinances Pass First Reading
The 2017 general and fire territory salary ordinances, which states the maximum amount a city employee can be paid, were approved on first readings. The ordinances need to be passed by Nov. 1. Mayor Joe Thallemer stated the maximum pay amount has been talked about for several years to bring city employees up to a competitive position. “Locally we are not doing so well and are losing employees.”
Jeff Grose, Cindy Dobbins and Jack Wilhite, council members on the wage committee, all voiced the increases were good faith efforts but the city is still a little behind in competitive wages. “An honest day’s work on fair wages,” stated Grose, adding it is an attempt to make things right for the employees and be fair to the community.
It was noted these wages can be lowered once the ordinance passes, but cannot be raised. Any additional tweaking of the salaries can be done before the final adoption at the Oct. 17 council meeting.
The council was also given a copy of the elected officials salary ordinance, which does not need approval until the end of the year. This ordinance was tabled.
Appropriations And Tax Rate Passes First Reading
The first reading of the 2017 appropriations and tax rate for the city was approved following a public hearing. The budget estimate is $29,566,224 and the current tax levy is $11,231,330. This would put the adopted tax rate at $1.3818.
Thallemer stated this amount is above what the maximum levy is projected to be: $1.35. “We will need to reduce spending this year and next year with reduction of line two cuts,” Thallemer stated. The current tax levy is $1.239 with the city allowed a 3.8 percent growth factor, which would be at $1.2850.
During other business three transfers of funds from salaries to professional services were approved. Two of the transfers were for the cemetery and public work departments to pay part time help for leaf removal. The third was for the building and planning department for engineering and marking of right of ways on the Husky Trail project.
Council members also approved amending the employee personnel policy handbook relating to emergency closings and adding figures to a resolution for the application of matching funds through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. A resolution to apply for the funds was approved at the September meeting without specification of dollar amounts.