Warren approves budget but property tax rate still work in progress

The Warren Town Council approved a budget for 2018 during its meeting on Monday, Oct. 9, but the part of the budget that matters to most Warren residents — the property tax rate — is still very much a work in progress.

The tax rate for 2018, however, will probably end up looking much like the 2017 rate of $1.0798 per $100 of assessed value, Clerk-Treasurer Marilyn Morrison says, even though next year’s rate will be advertised at $1.19.

The final figure will depend on the town’s new assessed value and any changes made to the budget by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

The 2018 budget totals $2,152,762, a decrease of $48,000 from the 2017 budget of $2,200,855. Warren’s assessed valuation — the value of all properties inside the town — was set at almost $31 million for 2017.

Morrison says that because the town’s total assessed value for 2018 is not yet available, she plugged in a lower assessed value for 2018, estimated at $30 million, resulting in an estimated property tax rate of $1.19.

When the town’s true assessed value for 2018 is determined — and Morrison says it’s likely going to be similar to this year’s — the property tax rate will be cut.

“It should be close to $1.10 or $1.11 for next year,” Morrison said.

As council members finalized the town’s spending plan for 2018, they also gave final approval to a set of ordinances establishing wages and benefits for the year, which includes an across-the-board raise of 67 cents an hour, and reduced several appropriations in the 2017 budget so that money can be moved forward to 2018.

The council also approved a recommendation by the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development that a house at 103 E. 4th St. be slated for demolition.

The house has an out-of-town owner who has not responded to communications from the DCD, department staffer Marla Stambazze said, and has made no effort to improve the structure.

“When we looked at it a year ago it was not an unsafe structure, but it has deteriorated,” Stambazze said. “We think it should come down.”

Council President Julia Glessner inquired abut the possibility of turning the house over to the Warren Volunteer Fire Department to be used in a training exercise, but Stambazze said that is prohibited by state regulations because of the possibility that asbestos and lead paint inside the home could contaminate the water supply.

Council members approved a contract with Commonwealth Engineering to prepare plans for the reconstruction of 11th Street and stormwater improvements in the area. The $850,000 project, to be done next year, will be paid for in large part by a state Community Crossings grant.

Commonwealth Engineering’s fee will not exceed $147,200.

Council OK’d a request by Ben Ryan to use the softball diamonds at Tower Park on Nov. 4 .

Ryan plans to host a slow pitch softball tournament to help raise funds for a travel softball team he helps coach.

A second request to use the park’s ball diamonds for a series of tournaments next summer was put on hold until the council receives additional information. The tournaments would be hosted by the United States Specialty Sports Association.