By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – City Council took pre-emptive action Monday night, Nov. 16, as parts of the nation start reacting to what appears to be a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Similar to what the city did twice earlier this year after the national shutdown began, the council approved temporary changes to the salary ordinance that will allow city employees to be paid in the event they need to work remotely if an emergency is declared.
The move is a proactive effort in case the city has to close a department or building.
The policy would go into effect if Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer declares an emergency.
“I hope we don’t have to use this, but we have to be ready if we do,” Thallemer said.
The move comes less than a week after Thallemer announced new limits by requiring appointments for anyone seeking to do business with city offices. The town of Winona Lake took the same action Monday. Some area schools are also struggling to remain open because of staff shortages caused by the need to quarantine staff.
Council on Monday also settled further into a new routine for receiving public input during legally required public hearings by allowing the public to text concerns via a specific phone number to the council chambers.
The move was used earlier this month when it voted to support a new stormwater fee hike and did it again Monday when council considered a request to move money from an aviation account to help pay for a new door for the Zimmer Biomet hangar at the airport.
Since city meetings are streamed live online, Thallemer made the offer to those watching online during the meeting.
In both instances, nobody took advantage of the opportunity. And in both instances, the issues were approved unanimously.
The $155,000 appropriation will go toward the purchase and installation of a new, larger door on the Zimmer Biomet hangar. The entire door project is expected to cost about $644,000.
The airport owns the hangar and Zimmer Biomet recently agreed to an increase in its lease agreement that will see the monthly fee rise from $3,600 to $5,000 per month.
Council also approved a transfer within the airport budget to coincide with the door project.
The new door will accommodate planes with larger wingspans to use the hangar.
Airport Manager Nick King said the door will likely be installed and ready for use by April or May, weather permitting.