By David Slone
WARSAW — After a lengthy discussion by the Warsaw Common Council on its ARPA grant process for nonprofit organizations, they also heard a request to reconsider the city’s ordinance that prohibits chickens in the city limits.
At their Oct. 2 meeting, the council had discussed the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) grant application. Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said Monday that Council President Jack Wilhite and Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins have been working on it, with input from others.
“Basically, what we’ve got are funds that have been set aside, and we wanted to come up with an application and a program for the distribution of those funds,” Thallemer said.
He said $180,000 in ARPA funds have been allocated – about $90,000 this year and $90,000 for 2024. The money has to be approved and appointed for spending by the end of 2024, but doesn’t have to be spent until the end of 2026.
On the ARPA grant application, Wilhite said it was designed to help nonprofits, especially those most impacted by Covid-19. He said since 2023 is nearly over, some of the $90,000 for this year may be rolled over into next year.
“These are 80/20 grants. If a nonprofit puts in $2, we’ll put in $8. Awarded grants are anticipated to be from $5,000 to $50,000. Grants are for described capital projects or capital expenditures that are described in the application,” he said.
Up to 80% of the cost of a nonprofit’s capital project or capital expenditure may be awarded. The nonprofits will be responsible for at least 20% of the capital project or capital expenditure that they’re seeking a grant for.
The middle section of the application is for basic information about the organization applying for the grant dollars. The last section covers the details of the project or expenditure.
Applications need to be in to City Hall, in care of Dobbins, by no later than Oct. 31, 2024.
“This gives the council a couple months to review and get those last-minute ones approved and in,” Wilhite said.
He then discussed the ARPA grant agreement, explaining how the grant applications will be reviewed by not only the council’s ARPA committee, but also the council and the Board of Public Works and Safety. The nonprofit has to show receipts for their 20% of their capital project/expenditures, and once that’s approved, the Board of Works approves the first 50% of the grant. Once the project is complete and the nonprofit provides the receipts for the entire project, the remaining 50% of the grant is paid. All submissions for payouts must be completed by Oct. 31, 2026.
After some discussion, Councilman Jeff Grose suggested the steps in the process should be included in the agreement so the nonprofit knows what will be expected of them in advance. Thallemer agreed with Grose’s comment, and Wilhite said he will include that as an exhibit attached to the application.
No formal approval of the process and application was given by the council Monday, but once all the changes are made, they will be posted on the city’s website to allow nonprofits the opportunity to apply for the funds from the city.
The city was awarded $3.433 million in ARPA funds. Thallemer said in 2022, they spent just under $1 million; in 2023, $1.8 million was allocated; in 2024, there was another $323,000; and in 2025, there’s another $97,500.
“So the allocations have been spread out, from ’22 to ’24. And, again, emergency light repair, the LaunchPad initiative for child care, Parks and Recreation programming we put a small amount in there, emergency communications — $500,000 to help with the county, $195,000 for the mental health initiative, which includes the CARES program, $500,000 for stormwater projects, $500,000 for infrastructure – there’s a lot of sidewalk projects that are going on. And we had not-for-profit and small business relief in there from day one,” Thallemer said about the different projects the city’s ARPA funds were used for.
The $180,000 for the nonprofit grants is the last part of how the ARPA money is going to be spent.
Before the council adjourned, James Cress, who lives on Maye Street, addressed them briefly about reconsidering the ordinance that doesn’t allow chickens in the city limits.
He said the council visited the ordinance in 2014, but since then more counties, cities and towns have become more lenient on the issue. He provided the council with information he printed off about backyard chickens.
“I know a lot of the things people have to complain about is the noise or the smell, and I know there’s ways you guys could regulate that like a lot of areas surrounding us do, as far as it not getting out of control and people having certain responsibilities or even the city being able to benefit with people registering and whatever kind of limitations you guys can come up with,” Cress said, noting that a lot has changed since 2014.
Thallemer told him the council previously had a debate on the issue and they voted it down. He suggested if Wilhite wants to revisit the topic, he could bring it back to the council.
“I will tell you that the concern at the time was the bird flu outbreak. The commercial birds that we have in the community — the duck industry and the poultry industry — I know a lot of those folks are pretty nervous about the bird flu and how their flocks can be completely wiped out if that gets into the community. So I know that was probably the number one concern at the time, and I don’t know that that’s changed,” Thallemer said, adding that it would be the council’s prerogative to revisit the issue if they wanted.
In other business, the council approved:
- On second reading, an ordinance vacating a portion of public ways of Beverage and Roosevelt streets as requested by Whimet Properties LLC. The public ways to be vacated are Beverage Street between lots 3 and 4 and Roosevelt Street between lots 8 and 9. The first reading was held Oct. 2.
- On second reading, the 2024 general salary ordinance. Human Resource Director Denny Harlan said one administrative error was fixed on the ordinance. The first reading was Oct. 2.
- On second reading, the 2024 elected officials salary ordinance with no changes made since the first reading Oct. 2.
- An amendment to the 2024 police salary ordinance and then the police salary ordinance on second reading. Thallemer said there were some cleanups that needed to be done on the ordinance since the first reading Oct. 2 in regard to longevity pay for lateral hiring purposes. Harlan said they cleaned up some verbiage and made the ordinance a little more grammatically correct.
- An amendment to the 2024 fire salary ordinance and then the fire salary ordinance on second reading. Thallemer said there also was some verbiage that needed to be changed to the ordinance from the first reading on Oct. 2.
Harlan said there was a little bit more change on the fire salary ordinance. “It included language that said that a lateral had to come from the 77 fund, which is just in Indiana. As you can see in the police (ordinance), it didn’t have that. So we took the specific out of the 77 fund off of this one, so if we have transfers that come from other paid departments from out of state, then we’ll be able to give them longevity as well.”
All the salary ordinances, except for the elected officials salary ordinance, had to be approved by Nov. 1. The elected salary ordinance didn’t have to be approved until Dec. 31.