By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — City department heads gave budget presentations at a lengthy Warsaw City Council meeting Monday, Aug. 17, with the majority reporting budget decreases for 2021.
Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer pointed out that the 2021 budgets include 26 pay periods rather than the 27 payroll periods in 2020, meaning that a reduction in the salaries/wages category does not necessarily mean that employees are receiving less money.
Human Resources Director Jennifer Whitaker reviewed the HR budget. She told the council that the printing and advertising category has been reduced by $2,000 for 2021. She explained that in 2020, extra money was built into the budget to cover the cost of new handbooks.
The HR budget shows a .6 percent decrease from 2020.
Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Chief Mike Wilson said the WWFT budget includes the hire of three new firefighters, one on each shift.
Wilson reported a 2021 total budget of $167,991, a decrease of 3.16 percent from 2020’s budget.
Oakwood Cemetery Sexton Hal Heagy reported a 2021 total budget decrease of $876 from 2020, which amounts to 0.1 percent. The total budget estimate for 2020 was $762,861. The total budget estimate for 2021 is $761,985.
City Plan Director Jeremy Skinner reported an increase in the 2021 building & plan total budget of roughly 2 percent.
Warsaw Municipal Airport Manager Nick King said there is an increase of $11,000 in the services and charges category because the current program they use for all company finances related to fuel sales is outdated.
“We cannot get support for it anymore and heaven forbid something happens to that program, we will lose all of our fuel sale data,” King said. “The company has a new product. You cannot purchase it. It is a subscription-based online hosted product so that’s where that $11,000 increase comes from. It’s just what the cost is for that program for next year.”
King reported a 2021 total budget decrease of 2.12 percent.
In another matter, Brian Davison, utility manager for the City of Warsaw, gave an update on the wastewater plant expansion project.
“We had anticipated actually starting to take flow through the plant, but that’s been pushed back to probably Wednesday at this point,” Davison said.
He showed the council photos of different phases of the process.
“There isn’t anything we haven’t changed, added or touched through this construction process,” Davison said.
Tours of the facility, at 2056 North CR150W, are being conducted on Friday afternoons.
“I think it may be worth noting, this council took a lot of heat and a lot of angst in the debate as to whether to build this facility or not,” said Councilman Mike Klondaris after Davison’s presentation. “When you see what’s happening, I think we should all be really proud. We should be proud of the mayor, we should be proud of the people who run the plant and I think the council deserves some credit for seeing it through and I just want to say thanks to everybody. I think it was worth it and we’re growing and we’re moving forward.”
Thallemer said he’s extremely proud of Davison and the work done by everyone involved with the project.
“We all knew how necessary it was and I’m really gratified that it’s done,” Thallemer said.
The project is not scheduled for completion until December. Davison said an extension is likely due to weather and changes that have had to be made along the way.
The $30 million expansion of the wastewater treatment plant can be viewed on the city website via a high-tech camera mounted above the worksite.
At the end of the meeting, Councilman Jeff Grose, who oversees the Deer Task Force program, announced that the Deer Task Force Management team made the difficult decision about six weeks ago to avoid their traditional training session “during these unique times” and move everything online.
This is being done in an effort to avoid having 50-plus people in close quarters participating in the standard in-person training in a conference room.
“This year, unlike the past several years, due to these factors, we are not going to invite any new archers. We are going to ask only veteran archers to apply online and participate in the program this year,” Grose said.
Grose said he will propose a resolution next month.
Things went very well with the program last year, Grose said, in part because archers were able to log in and report on their phones for the first time, making tracking much easier.
Grose said they hope to have the application and landowner forms online by Aug. 31. The information will be on the city website through the police department.
In other news:
- Council approved the first step in the process of establishing an economic revitalization area on Enterprise Drive.
- A conflict of Interest statement from Brandon Schmitt was acknowledged with a show of hands by council members. Schmitt is a board member of the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and an employee of Weed Septic Tank Services, who does occasional work for the city.
- Attorney Chad Miner presented the Tippy Creek Sewer by-laws. Thallemer recommended further review of section 4.1 regarding the statutes concerning appointments. Miner and City Attorney Scott Reust will review the by-laws and make any necessary changes. After clarification of 4.1, Miner will return with the amended by-laws.
- A workshop will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 1, for the council and department heads.
- The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.