By David Slone
WARSAW – Before the Common Council heard the second half of the city departments’ proposed budgets for 2023 on Monday, they heard Warsaw’s assessed valuation has increased significantly.
The Council heard the first half of the city departments’ proposed 2023 budgets on Aug. 1.
“As a general comment, our assessed valuation has come in. Significantly higher, and to that end, that will have certainly a positive impact to keep that tax rate down. We will get a little more detail on that as we get through the budget,” Mayor Joe Thallemer told the Council.
When preparing the budget, he said the city doesn’t use the new certified value but the city is instructed by the Department of Local Government Finance to use 90% of that value.
Thallemer also told the Council the city’s health insurance will probably have another favorable year.
“We’ve had good claims experience. We won’t have a negative, we won’t have a minus, but we will probably have a pretty low increase, probably somewhere under 4% would be my guess,” he said.
The medical trust board will vote on the rates later this month.
Airport Manager Nick King presented the first budgets Monday to the Council. He started out, however, giving a big thank-you to Kent King, the airport’s line supervisor who retired Monday after 34 years and 6 months of service.
“He took me from a greenhorn 26-year-old airport manager, and really helped shape me into the manager I am today by training me the field side of things,” King said.
The aviation general fund proposed budget for 2023 is $1,206,944, a 1.4% decrease from 2022’s $1,224,074.
Hal Heagy, Oakwood Cemetery sexton, had two budgets to present. They were the same as he presented to the Oakwood Board of Regents Aug. 4.
The cemetery budget is proposed at $860,377 for 2023, a 20.5% increase from 2022’s $714,167.
“This year is probably my biggest year in going up, which I’ll explain,” Heagy said, adding that a lot of it is in salary. He is trying to add another employee for 2023. Other costs that have gone up include fuel and supplies. The cemetery is also taking on the responsibility of mowing at the police department.
The other budget he presented was the cemetery permanent fund. It is not tax-supported but is generated from half of the proceeds from lot sales. It is proposed at $82,000 for 2023, a 37.5% decrease from 2022’s $111,500.
Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Larry Plummer presented the same three budgets he presented at the Parks Board meeting in July.
The Parks budget is proposed at $3,222,500, a 10% increase. Plummer attributed that to the airport park development at $100,000, land acquisition at $45,000, office/garage payment of $200,000, HIre Park restrooms at $60,000 and professional services at $93,000.
The parks non-reverting fund is not a tax-supported budget but generated from program fees. It is budgeted at a proposed $23,350 for 2023.
The parks non-reverting capital fund is supported from rental fees of the Nye Youth Cabin, Fireman’s Building and kayak kiosks. It is proposed at $20,000 for 2023.
Human Resource Director Denny Harlan presented his sole budget, proposed at $263,124 for 2023, an increase of $32,024 over the 2022 budget of $231,082.
He explained that the only difference in his budget from last year is the addition of an administrative assistant to help with some of the office work so he can get out and talk to the city’s employees more. He has budgeted the administrative assistant at a full-time salary of $37,601 plus benefits, but he said he doesn’t know yet if the position will be full-time or part-time. It will depend on how much work there is for the employee to do.
Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins said she was just happy he was adding an administrative assistant because one is needed.
Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Christiansen presented three budgets.
Her clerk-treasurer budget is proposed at $183,610 for 2023, a 2.34% increase over 2022’s $179,370.
Presenting the general obligation bond budget of $260,300, she said, “It is what it is.”
Her last budget was the cumulative capital improvement budget, which is generated from the state distributing cigarette tax funds. It is proposed at $70,000 for 2023.
Finally, Thallemer presented seven budgets, including his and the Council budget.
The mayor’s general budget is proposed at $268,646, a 10% increase over 2022’s proposed $243,609.60.
He did mention that the wage committee is recommending a salary increase for elected officials over the next couple of years, but they wouldn’t get into that in detail until they discuss the salary ordinance later this year.
The Council’s budget is proposed at $2,284,296.07, a 15% increase over 2022’s $1,986,597.
The budget includes nonprofit budget requests, which can not exceed 1.5% of the 2022 general fund budget, or $225,406 for 2023. Dobbins said the nonprofit budget requests came in over $30,000 more than the maximum allowed. Thallemer said money from the American Rescue Plan Act funds could be used to help nonprofits in next year’s budget.
The Economic Development Income Tax is proposed at $1,915,452 for 2023, down 11% from $2,142,622 in 2022. It does includes $350,000 for the first payment of the former Owen’s building on Columbia Street. Dobbins asked if the city owned the Owen’s property, and Thallemer told her KEDCO bought it but the city may be buying it.
The ARPA fund budget is proposed at $1,873,624. The city was waiting for its second traunch of funds as of Monday. Among the things in the budget are $55,500 for the CARES coordinator, $250,000 for neighborhood infrastructure, $62,500 for the LaunchPad childcare initiative, $30,000 for Covid vaccines and testing if needed, $351,927 for public spaces air quality HVAC City Hall repair and $625,000 for water infrastructure projects.
For the EDIT Revolving Loan Fund, $250,000 is budgeted. The fund was set up as an incentive for Nextremity Solution’s move into the Warsaw Tech Park and it wanted to purchase some equipment. When Nextremity was purchased by Medartis, the company decided to return the first $50,000 given to it and decided they didn’t need the incentive. The fund has $250,000 in it should a possible future incentive for a business be needed.
The last budget Thallemer presented was the cumulative capital development fund. It’s proposed at $825,000 for 2023, an increase over 2022’s $505,000. The increase comes from sidewalks and stormwater repairs and capital outlays.