WARSAW — The Kosciusko Leadership Academy (KLA) was hosted by the City of Warsaw and the Warsaw Police Department on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Cadets learned about city, county, and state government through presentations delivered by Warsaw’s Mayor, Dr. Joe Thallemer, County Treasurer Sue Anne Mitchell, and the State Representative for the 22nd district, Rep. Curt Nisly.
Mayor Thallemer opened with a discussion about revenue generation and the balance that must be achieved between keeping taxes as low as possible, while trying to improve services and attract new residents to our community. Today’s young professionals place a premium on living where they can enjoy a high quality of life, including communities which are safe, have excellent schools, and a wide variety of amenities to enjoy. Mayor Thallemer provided an overview of several community-enhancing projects such as the Market Street enhancement, the Winona Lake traffic circle, and the proposed “Maker Space” and the Buffalo Street corridor project. Mayor Thallemer encouraged the cadets to use him as a resource when developing white paper projects.
County Treasurer Sue Anne Mitchell continued the discussion on revenue by explaining that Kosciusko County has the second lowest tax rate in the state and has a long history of conservative spending. For example, Kosciusko County could have instituted the wheel tax as early as 1983 but chose not to. This tax was imposed two years ago and helps maintain our county’s infrastructure. Other revenue-generating initiatives were also explained such as the work release facility and the new “assessed value” method of determining property taxes. Ms. Mitchell also explained the county government structure and her progression through several public service roles including township trustee, county auditor, county treasurer and her next assignment as county council member. As a native of Anderson, Indiana, Ms. Mitchell challenged the cadets to do all they could to strengthen our local industry since these large businesses create so many jobs and contribute to the revenue base. Having lived through the evacuation of General Motors and Delco from Anderson, Ms. Mitchell saw firsthand how devastating industrial flight can be.
Representative Nisly provided an overview of the three branches of state government and explained the role of the House of Representatives and Senate in proposing and passing new legislation. He stressed that Kosciusko County is exceedingly rich in a variety of assets including agriculture, heavy industry and medical device technology, and of course, our lakes and streams. Rep. Nisly was asked how he balances his own views with the desires of his constituency and explained that he makes decision based on his core principles and then on making sure he represents the will of the people. He also stressed that he resists the pressure from Indianapolis to first represent state government to the 22nd district.
KLA meets again Oct.25 at the K21 Health Pavilion and will explore human services in Kosciusko County. For more information about KLA, please consult the website.