The latest census estimate (July 2017) for Indiana puts our population at almost 6.7 million.

Of that total, 66.3 percent (over 4.4 million) live in a Hoosier city or town. The City of Warsaw population is estimated at 14,478.

The City of Warsaw and all other Hoosier cities and towns are organized and represented by Accelerating Indiana Municipalities. AIM, was formerly known as The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

AIM and all the other 49 states’ municipal organizations form the National League of Cities. Karen Freeman-Wilson, the fine mayor of Gary, was just installed as president of the NLC and will lead that organization in 2019. Another Hoosier mayor, Ted Ellis of Bluffton, led the group in 2012.

AIM is a nonpartisan organization that represents approximately 460 Hoosier cities and towns. Their goals are to assist elected officials meet the challenges of governing and managing Indiana’s cities and towns. Their stated purpose it “to foster and advocate for the success of Hoosier municipalities as laboratories of innovation, hubs of talent and the engines driving our state’s economy.”

Like the other 459 members, our city has its own unique blend of assets, challenges and resources. Understanding that cities and towns share common goals and face similar challenges, AIM brings together elected officials, consultants, academic leaders, legislators and community leaders to collaborate and develop best practice solutions for the benefit of local government.

AIM convenes regional mayors roundtables that gather monthly to discuss timely issues and address common concerns. How do we collaborate with local school corporations to improve school safety? What are the best techniques to maintain our local roads and streets? What is the best way to fund a unique project that improves quality of life in our community? How do we navigate the regulatory environment in our wastewater treatment plants?

The Northern Indiana Mayors Roundtable has a large contingent of municipalities represented, along with representatives from state agencies, legislative offices and municipal consultants that serve as resources to these and many other problems.

In the end, it is the productive dialogue with those that have faced the same issues and challenges that usually brings a good local solution to light. Can we do that? How do we do that? How will it be funded? It’s nice to not have to reinvent the wheel.

AIM also sponsors newly elected officials training sessions and provides resources to assist with the rather steep learning curve inherent when a newcomer embarks on public service. Regional roundtables, budget workshops and timely webinars provide invaluable resources as we navigate legislative change and new agency rules.

Another benefit of AIM is that it offers group health insurance risk pooling to its members to combat medical inflation and promote wellness. The city of Warsaw was one of the original members of the AIM Medical Trust and has benefited from the rate stability and professional support it provides.

As you can also guess, AIM works with our state legislators to further legislative change in the best interest of the 4.4 million citizens of Indiana who live in cities and towns.

I thought I would end the year with a little lighter topic.

On behalf of all of the dedicated employees of the city of Warsaw and your local elected officials, we wish you all a very warm and safe holiday season!