Council gets lesson in local operations

NAPPANEE — Who decides what time Nappanee residents must turn down their music and other sounds which may violate the city noise ordinance?
Exactly who is responsible for paying the bills on city repairs and equipment?
These were just a few of the questions answered during the Nappanee Common Council meeting on Monday, March 4.
Clerk-Treasurer Kim Ingle presented to the council a detailed look at how city government works – what groups are responsible for finances, ordinances and other measures of city governing.
The presentation was openly received by the five-member council – four of whom are relatively new to their positions and have no previous experience in city politics.
Ingle explained that there are three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial. Locally the Nappanee Common Council is the legislative branch of the city, Nappanee Board of Works and Safety serves as the executive branch, and Nappanee City Court is the judiciary member of local government.
The clerk serves all three to help determine all financial aspects they encounter.
The mayor of the City of Nappanee oversee all three local government branches to ensure smooth operation of the city as a whole.
Executive branch
Nappanee Mayor Larry Thompson serves as the city’s executive.
Thompson oversees operation of city government, ensures efficient governmental decisions, appoints the head of city departments, boards and commissions, and approves or vetoes each ordinance and resolution which the council passes.
Among Thompson’s many duties is the annual task of setting the city’s budget for the coming year. He does so after talking with each city department head to discover what the needs are in each area.
The mayor then reviews with Clerk-Treasurer Ingle what city and grant money might be available to budget toward the costs of those projects and needed purchases.
Once the needs and funding options are merged, Thompson presents an outline of the projected yearly budget for review by city leaders.
The Nappanee Board of Public Works and Safety works for the mayor in an executive role, taking charge of everyday operations inside each city department. The board ensures that city expenses reflect the decisions made within city budget each year.
This three-member board – which includes the mayor – approves and budgets finances for city projects and purchases.
Board members also decide whether or not to purchase new ambulances, fire trucks or police cars based on the budget within each department.
The board must review city projects, such as infrastructures upgrades and land purchases.
Legislative branch
The five-member Nappanee Common Council reports to the mayor.
This group determines the rules and regulations for the city through ordinances and resolutions. Ingle explained that city ordinances are the final plan for what is, and is not, allowed by city law. Resolutions are temporary measures enacted to resolve immediate issues and determine what is in the best interest of the city.
When it comes to the annual city budget, the council can approve the measure as presented, or reduce the amount designated in any area.
Members cannot increase the amount of funding made available to each department. They can only make cuts.
City departments
Each area of the city is operated by different departments.
Departments include: water, street, parks, zoning and administration, waste water and three emergency services – police, fire and paramedic emergency services.
The clerk-treasurer’s office and Nappanee Senior Center also report to the Common Council and Board of Works.
Those holding these positions are appointed by the mayor and approved by Nappanee Common Council – except the clerk-treasurer, which is an elected position.
Each month department heads present an account of the highlights accomplished, including hours spent plowing or sweeping city streets, the number of ambulance and police calls received, and description of calls for firefighters.
City departments must financially support themselves. A portion of the city budget is devoted to each area but departments must also use funding raised from services offered to remain cost efficient.
An example of this includes the fees charged for park programs, which must support the cost to present those programs, the equipment used and park maintenance.
Utility fees are another example. They generate income to help support the city’s cost in providing those services.
The mayor also appoints people to serve on executive departments and report back so he can make informed decisions concerning each issue affecting the City of Nappanee and its residents.
Executive departments include the Nappanee Planning Commission, which oversees building and land usage, and the Economic Development Commission, which makes decisions on commercial projects and bonding.
Nappanee Common Council meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Mondays of each month, inside Council Chambers at the Nappanee Municipal Building.
Board of Public Works and Safety members meet in that same location at 3:30 p.m., on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
Meetings for both groups are open to the public.