WINONA LAKE — The town of Winona Lake was able to display fiscal frugality, while at the same time bolstering security and enhancing the town’s ongoing beautification efforts.
Town Clerk Kent Adams discussed the town’s upcoming proposed 2019 budget and boasted a reduction, while the town council, in its monthly meeting Tuesday, Aug. 21, heard a report of the addition of a new police officer and approved further steps toward the addition of a roundabout at the town’s northwest entrance.
“You’ll recall a few months back we had Paige Sansome of Umbaugh & Associates here because we thought it showed wisdom to do an analysis of our yearly budget,” said Adams, who reported to the town council that Winona Lake’s proposed new budget could be reduced significantly. “It’s always a good idea to get some outside input,” he continued. “The bottom line is that we anticipate being able to reduce our budget some 3.54 percent.”
Adams said this reduction will be possible in spite of several salary increases and the addition of a new police officer.
“We’ve been very cognizant of keeping our budget in line over the years,” Adams said.
The town clerk told the board and residents in attendance that the town had previously based its budget on annual expenses. According to Adams, the new strategy would be to base the budget on annual revenue.
“We eliminated some funds that we were not spending out of and combined some other funds,” he said.
Adams told the board that the new proposed budget showed a net decrease of $193,449.
New police officer
Deputy Police Chief Mike Foster, filling in for Police Chief Joe Hawn, told the board that drug-related crime had been on the rise in the town recently. He said his duties had been to serve as a regular officer with a 12-hour shift, but also to head up crime investigations. The proposed new officer will help with the workload.
“Our hope is by getting that additional officer, he’ll take my slot and I’ll be able to fluctuate my hours to get those investigations completed faster,” Foster said. “We’re seeing an increase in our drug-related crimes and our burglaries and thefts and we’re trying to devote more time to get those solved faster.”
In a letter to the board, Hawn reported that from 2016 to 2017, burglaries and thefts increased from 53 to 79, while drug complaints and overdoses rose from 29 to 50.
Town Coordinator Craig Allebach told the council that the Indiana Department of Transportation had given the town the green light to proceed with its planned roundabout where Winona Avenue and Argonne Road merge just south of the railroad tracks at the town’s entrance.
“We received a letter from INDOT on Aug. 7, that they’ve now authorized a purchase order for the design of the roundabout to the tune of $279,672,” said Allebach. “So, we can start expending money for the design of the roundabout. In order to do that we need to send them a letter of a notice to proceed.”
Allebach also said that the town will have to make some land purchases to accommodate the project, in particular a parcel of land that is currently the site of Collier’s Heating & Air Conditioning at 2499 E. Winona Avenue.
“When we applied for the grant a couple of years ago, we had realized we were probably going to need that Collier’s property and then probably a little sliver of the property across the street, which is where the old gas station used to be,” said Allebach. “We were probably a few years out from actually contacting Colliers for negotiations to purchase that property. But, I got a call a couple of weeks ago that Colliers was interested in selling that parcel so that worked out well.”
Allebach said a representative of the company told him that the company was planning a relocation.