WINONA LAKE - Claims, the 2024 budget and two grant applications were on the Winona Lake Town Council’s docket Thursday during a special meeting, all of which were unanimously approved.
On a list of claims presented, Clerk-Treasurer Heather James said the list included claims that Council President Rick Swaim approved and that had already been paid but did not include claims that were done Thursday.
The council approved the list of claims but delayed taking action on the claims done Thursday to give council members time to review them during the meeting. Those claims included utility bills that are due before the council’s next meeting in November and other items. They were approved as the last action taken by the council Thursday.
Town Manager Craig Allebach said there will probably be some other claims that will have to be paid out before the November council meeting. “What we’ve been doing is emphasizing that Rick has to come in and approve those claims. Now, of course, Heather is here so she can sign the checks, but at least (Rick) has to approve those. Kind of like what we did before,” Allebach stated.
James was chosen by a Republican caucus Tuesday to fill the vacancy in the clerk-treasurer’s office after Laurie Renier resigned Oct. 10 effective immediately. James was a town councilwoman until she resigned Tuesday before the caucus. James won the election this year for clerk-treasurer but until Renier’s resignation wasn’t scheduled to take over as clerk-treasurer until Jan. 1.
The council also reviewed and approved the 2024 budget adoption for appropriations and tax rates ordinance on Thursday.
“Nothing’s really changed from this year to next year, and so we had our hearing with very little comment because nothing really changed,” Allebach said before requesting approval for the 2024 budget.
Resident Jerry Nelson asked if the tax rate will stay the same.
“As far as I know, it’s going to stay the same. It could go down even because we’re still working off this year’s budget,” Allebach responded. “The rates are set later in the year once all the documents are done.”
The 2024 budget estimate is $6,109,532, according to previously provided documentation. That includes $65,000 for the casino/riverboat fund; $40,000 for the rainy day fund; $1,595,816 for the general fund; $89,500 for the local roads and streets fund; $814,150 for the motor vehicle highway fund; $5,000 for continuing education; $234,830 for the park fund; $50,000 for cumulative capital improvement fund; $191,000 for cumulative capital development; $800,000 for economic development income tax fund; $126,000 for redevelopment general; $300,000 for tax increment replacement; $1,436,236 for wastewater; $300,000 for stormwater; $44,000 for opioid settlement fund restricted; and $18,000 for opioid settlement fund unrestricted.
Town Marshal Joe Hawn and Park Director Holly Hummitch both requested and received approval to apply for a grant each.
Hawn said he saw in the newspaper where there was a grant available for police K9s through the Kosciusko County Community Foundation and he wanted to apply for that grant.
He said it was a matching grant and he was applying for $3,110 for food and veterinarian bills for Grim, the police department’s K9, as well as well as funding for a bite sleeve, some narcotic training scent boxes and scent bags. The match will be prior veterinarian bills for Grim, which the grantee said would be acceptable as part of the match, Hawn indicated.
Hummitch asked for permission to apply for a Community Foundation grant this coming cycle. Deadline is Nov. 1, and she said the $20,000 grant is one they’ve applied for in the past.
The council approved the grant applications 5-0.
Hawn also reported the police department received a grant from the Kosciusko Coalition On Drug Education (KCODE) so they will have a new trail cam monitoring system in the police department and a new tablet for a squad car. The grant was for $4,164.50.
To start off the special meeting Thursday, Swaim welcomed and congratulated James as the town’s new clerk-treasurer.
At the end of the meeting, James stated, “I just want to say to everyone here that Lisa (Sands) has been doing a great job in the office. She is not afraid to learn anything new. She’s on the phone, she’s taking on new tasks and I really appreciate her help in what she’s been doing.”
Swaim said Sands has been “learning on the fly” and “doing a good job.”