By Joe Thallemer
Mayor of Warsaw
The city of Warsaw is involved in many important public projects that benefit our community.
We often give progress updates on those projects in this column. As taxpayers, I feel it is important to talk about how these projects are funded and how private partners “participate” and contribute to their success.
The City is most often the sole funding participant for smaller public-works projects. The most common sources of funding are local taxes and utility fees, state and federal distributions, grants, and loans, and private grants and donations. Projects can be paid off in full when completed. They can also be paid off over time with debt from a municipal bond or installment financing contract.
The sources of revenue to pay the bonds or contracts must be pledged from property taxes, utility fees, tax-increment revenues, economic development income, or local income tax revenue. Let’s mention a few examples of municipally funded projects. The Warsaw-Wayne Fire Station #3 is financed by a municipal general obligation bond that is funded by annually pledged property tax revenue.
The recently completed expansion of our wastewater treatment plant is financed by a federal revolving loan fund that is paid off from wastewater utility user fees. Local road projects (Parker, Husky Trail, Market phase 2, Anchorage, and Lincoln Neighborhood sidewalk projects) are funded 80% from INDOT grants and 20% from municipal funds. The Hodges addition street and sidewalk reconstruction were 50% INDOT Community Crossings Grant and 50% municipal funds.
Parks, trails, recreation, and public art projects are city initiated and in addition to city funds, can be partially supported by private dollars from foundations, corporate donors, and individual donors who share similar community goals with the city. Outdoor sculptures (City Hall, Buffalo Street Plaza), murals, trail projects (Market Street phase 1), and pickle-ball courts (Kelly Park) are prime examples.
The vast majority of funding for the soon-to-be-opened North Buffalo Street Plaza came from the Indiana Regional Cities Grant. We are blessed with a very generous community that supports projects the reflect the wishes of the broader community. Partnering with private enterprise on typically larger projects allows the City to leverage public resources (infrastructure improvements, land, etc.) to stimulate a developer or new company to invest in projects that meet the goals of the community.
Public-Private Partnerships (“P3’s” as they are often referred to) align based on the purpose and nature of the project, and as you can imagine, its funding requirements. P3’s projects generate significant private investment into our community. That is how we grow. Industrial development, retail, and housing projects create jobs, increase school enrollment, bring new goods and services to town, increase tax revenues, and broaden the tax base that lowers the property tax rate.
As an example, significant priority is given to housing projects, creating the critical quality of place amenity that our community requires.
The “802 Center” Senior Housing Project is a P3 project of over ten million dollars of private investment supplemented by a one-million-dollar federal housing grant and several hundred thousand city dollars of land and infrastructure investment by the city.
The result is 72 affordable quality apartments with ‘aging in place amenities’ for our seniors.
I hope this very broad discussion sheds a little light on the importance of investing in our community.