By Dan Spalding
WINONA LAKE – Property owners in Winona Lake will likely see a slight drop in their property taxes for 2021.
Council reviewed the proposed budget for 2021, conducted a public hearing and will meet Oct. 20 to adopt the budget.
The entire $5 million budget is almost identical to the 2020 budget.
As a result of annexation, the amount of net assessed value for the town will jump by about $11 million and help push the tax rate down by more than a penny.
The current tax rate is .7010 and the 2021 rate is expected to be 0.6857.
The proposed budget is very much a carryover of the current budget, with no salary hikes for elected officials or town employees, according to Clerk-Treasurer Kent Adams.
“I don’t know what else to say other than we’re fortunate to be in the situation we’re in,” Adams said.
Despite what many consider an acceptable budget plan given the circumstances, one person spoke at the meeting and questioned how the town oversees its finances.
Jerry Nelson questioned the use of spending some $12,000 to determine how to handle stormwater.
He suggested the town has spending practices that don’t show up on the balance sheet.
Town Council President Rick Swaim denied that accusation.
Adams assured Nelson that the town is following state guidelines.
The town attorney noted that a hearing would be conducted eventually on stormwater fee adjustments.
The town also approved the use of $1.2 million in revenue bonds that will be used to finance the extension of a water service and the greenway project.
The use of the bonds will not affect the tax rate, according to a consultant who spoke at the meeting.
In other matters:
- Plans for Halloween trick or treat hours have not been set yet.
- Advanced Disposal, of Claypool, was awarded the town’s three-year contract to provide trash and recycling pickup. Advanced had the low bid compared to Borden Waste-Away.
- Town Manager Craig Allebach said the town will soon demolish an inground swimming pool near Stonehenge because it’s become a safety hazard.
- The old Collier’s building near the viaduct and Winona Avenue will soon be razed to make room for the roundabout that will be constructed in 2022.