By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Warsaw, Elkhart, Goshen and Plymouth all rank among the top 25 municipalities in Indiana with significant amounts of money set aside in official rainy day funds.
Rainy day funds are designed to provide municipalities – and counties – with a source of money for emergencies or unexpected expenses.
A report by an Indianapolis CPA firm, C.L. Coonrod and Company, sheds light on where municipalities rank in the amount of money they have set aside and available for emergencies. C.L. Coonrod and Company looked at 119 communities, with the report compiling figures from the beginning of 2022.
The biggest rainy day balance is Noblesville with $20 million.
The next three – Carmel, South Bend and Elkhart – all have more than $10 million.
Plymouth ranked sixth in the state with $5.4 million, and Goshen was 15th with $2.6 million.
Warsaw reported $1,715,350 in its rainy day fund and ranked 23rd.
Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said he views the rainy day fund as a backup to the backup, known by the state as the reserve fund.
In addition to the rainy day fund, Warsaw – and all other cities – maintain a reserve fund. Warsaw’s keeps its reserve funds at 15% of the general budget. That number was prescribed by the city’s financial advisor.
Thallemer, who’s been in office for a dozen years, doesn’t recall how the current balance came together because it’s been sitting idle for so many years.
In some cases, part of the money has been used as a financial bridge for some road projects but that money has always eventually been returned, he said.
“I look at that money as something we just don’t touch,” Thallemer said.
The only time to tap into it is for a natural disaster or a calamity, he said.
“I’m glad we’ve got something stashed away,” he said.
He credited past administrations and city clerks for establishing it years ago.
Thallemer recently finished a two-year stint as president of AIM (Accelerate Indiana Municipalities) that spanned much of the pandemic. He said he thinks waves of federal relief money helped communities avoid dipping into rainy day funds.
There were 31 communities with at least $1 million set aside in the fund as of Jan. 1.
You can find the entire list here.
Other area towns: Michigan City had $1 million; Rochester had $661,775; Peru had $383,464; Columbia City had 358,532; Ligonier had $293,993.
Eleven municipalities in Indiana did not start the year with any money in their rainy day accounts. Those included Terre Haute and five communities in northwest Indiana – Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hobart and Lake Station.