WARSAW — After much deliberation and hearing the public’s concerns, the Warsaw Council approved the issuance of a general bond for the new Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory fire station at County Farm Road and CR 200S during the council meeting Monday night, Dec. 5.
“I’m appreciative of the process, and I hope it plays out to the satisfaction of as many as it can,” Mayor Joe Thallemer commented regarding the hours of discussion that has occurred around the building of the fire station. “It is difficult to make everybody happy. I am thankful for your involvement and your time.”
Before moving into the tabled discussion of approving a general bond for the new fire station, Mayor Thallemer wanted to consider and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Wayne Township.
Prior to hearing anything regarding the MOU, the mayor gave some background on where the discussion was currently at.
The third station being considered has been in consideration since 2009, when the fire territory was developed. Thallemer advised, “It was originally, and in my mind still is, a satellite station. It’s there to provide primary emergency response. Improving response time, it’s going to save lives as well as lowering homeowner’s fire premiums.”
Thallemer had instructed the fire territory to eliminate the third proposed bay to simplify cost, saving just under $900,000. He suggested the new station could be built with another $600,000 cut from construction costs. It was agreed that this amount would best be cut by removing the proposed public space basement.
The station would be owned by the fire territory, not by the city or township, and that both the city and the township are responsible for the costs of the station. The written MOU is merely a “good will intention” between the city and the township. Councilman Ron Shoemaker took issue with this “good will intention”, fearing that if Wayne Township is unable to pay due to lack of budget funds the costs will fall on the Warsaw taxpayers.
Erin Rowland with Wayne Township advised that they have a $600,000 budget that varies year to year and they simply cannot guarantee a provided amount for years to come. “We are limited to what we have … our intention is there is money going to the city for this contract every year, but we can’t guarantee what that amount is.”
“See, I have a problem with that,” stated Shoemaker.
The need for the city to issue the bond rather than the fire territory, is an issue caused by the Department of Government Finance which does not allow the territory to issue the bond. The City of Warsaw, as the providing unit to the territory, is the one responsible for the bond. The DOGF limits the type of agreements that can be entered, leaving a MOU the only option despite not being legally binding.
Ultimately the MOU was approved with a small wording amendment to section 6, approved 5-2 with Shoemaker and Jerry Frush opposing.
After the approval of the MOU, Mayor Thallemer moved in to the continued discussion of the approving of the issuance of the general bond.
Thallemer took this time to ask MartinRiley representatives if they were comfortable with eliminating $600,000 from the budget. It was advised that this could indeed come from eliminating the 4,000 square foot basement and should not compromise utility space.
Warsaw-Wayne Chief Mike Wilson stated that he and his crew are comfortable doing what is recommended. Later Jeff Grose called out that he can sense Wilson is willing to do whatever it takes to get the building built because he has a need to serve the south side of town.
The board reminded the audience that the bond is not the bid. The overall project can still come in at a lower cost and the number agreed upon tonight would just be a do not exceed amount. There is still no concrete plan on which to take bids, and a do not exceed limit first has to be established.
With a bond limit wavering between $3.0 and 3.9 million, it was brought up by Shoemaker that Fort Wayne has a five bay fire station that came in under $2 million in costs. “Why can’t we have that?” was a proposed question by the audience. Thallemer turned it over to Jack Daniels with MartinRiley to answer. The best answer given was that the material used and the year in which it was built both make a big impact. “We want something that will last,” was a sentiment shared by multiple people.
Thallemer assured the audience that on a square foot basis, the cost is within the normal cost range for this type of building. To those questioning the extravagance of the proposed building, Thallemer says, “I invite you to come and look at what we are doing and the cost of construction. I don’t think anything is out of line. We want to build a building that will last a long time.”
“We can’t sit up here and nickel and dime this thing,” stated Mike Klondaris. “We need to trust the paid officials, the professionals. The people that save your life.”
Diane Quance chimed in that most people are not opposed to the building of the fire station, they just want the cost down.
The board finally came to the agreement to reduce the do not exceed from $3.9 million to $3.0 million, passing 5-2 with Grose and Klondaris opposed.
The approval to issue the bond for the new fire station, with the amendment of $3.0 million, passed 6-1 with Shoemaker opposing.
Following was the discussion regarding appropriating the funds from the approved bond. There was a motion to amend the ordinance to reflect the $3.0 million do not exceed, passing 6-1 with Klondaris opposing. The ordinance was then approved as amended, passing 6-1 with Shoemaker opposing.
- 2017 Elected Officials ordinance was approved, second reading to occur on Dec. 19.
- Mike Klondaris recommended himself and Rick Snodgrass for the Redevelopment Committee, as well as Dan Smith to Zoning Appeals.
- Scott Whitaker with Warsaw PD was present to ask for $16,000 to be transferred from salary to operating expenses. Approved.
- An amendment to the 2017 Salary Ordinance reflecting a clerical error was approved.