NM Council joins fight to save WIC office

By Shaun Tilghman

The Indiana Department of Health recently announced that the North Manchester Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program office would close on Oct. 1 in order to consolidate with the Wabash office.

Not only has that decision sparked unrest among community members, but Town Council has now passed a resolution on the matter as well.

As many of you have been following, the WIC Program is scheduled to end in North Manchester, said Town Council President Chris Garber during the July 1 meeting.

“There’s been an active group of citizens making phone calls to the State, and I hear there¹s some positive things going on there,” he said. “But, we do have a resolution tonight that supports WIC, and with your permission we’d like to read it.”

Town Clerk-Treasurer Carrie Mugford then read Resolution No. 2, 2015, which is a resolution in support of maintaining a local WIC office. The resolution states that it is of vital importance to the Town of North Manchester to promote care for its youngest and most vulnerable citizens; and an essential part of that care is the ability of young mothers to access nutrition and common foods, such as milk, as well as healthcare referrals for pregnant women, newborns, and children.

It goes on to explain that the Indiana Department of Health has indicated North Manchester will be losing an important link for these services with the closing of the local WIC office. As a result, Town Council resolves to assist in an effort to keep that office open in North Manchester by lending its voices to that effort through this resolution.

A copy of the resolution will be forwarded to State Sen. Jim Banks, State Rep. David Wolkins, and Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams.

During the discussion period for the resolution, Town Council member Jim Smith said, “It really is going to be hurtful to almost 200 families if this office closes because they¹ll have to go to Wabash to get services.”

Fellow Council member Tom Dale added, “I would say that¹s probably part of the reason that they’re needing those services in the first place, is that the travel would be difficult.”

In other business, Mugford introduced General Ordinance No. 2, 2015, and explained why it is necessary.

“Three parts were initially proposed for the LOIT (Local Option Income Tax) when it was new a few years ago, and Wabash County did not take the public safety portion of it,” she said.

“At the beginning of this year they adopted the public safety portion,” Mugford continued, “and one of the stipulations with that is that it has to be in its own fund. So, we need to create a fund to put that money into in order to monitor it, and it can be used for any purposes for public safety.”

The measure is an ordinance amending specific sections
of the town’s Municipal.

Whereas, the Town of North Manchester operates police and fire departments within the town’s jurisdiction, and the town desires to continue to operate said police and fire departments for the citizens of the town, and Wabash County has passed a Public Safety Local Option Income Tax, and it is necessary to create a specific and separate non-reverting fund for deposit, expenditure, and disbursement of funds generated by the tax.

According to the ordinance, Fund No. 249 ¬ LOIT ¬ Public Safety Fund has been established with the purpose of being funded with the tax revenues generated by the Public Safety Local Option Income Tax. Expenditures may be made from the Fund for expenditures necessary for public safety; however, spending from the Fund shall not exceed the taxes paid into the Fund.

Smith then inquired as to whether this would become part of the Town budget.

“It is not appropriated,” Mugford explained, “so we don¹t have to get State approval because we’ll appropriate it ourselves. Since it’s locally appropriated, the Council can say how much you want to spend out of it, but it can only be used for public safety. You set the appropriations during the budget process, but they don’t have to go to the State for approval.

“Ultimately, what it does is it takes the pressure off the General Fund.”

Town Manager Dave Schoeff added, “If Council didn’t appropriate it all toward the budget, then individually, if somebody wanted to buy something for public safety they would have to come to Council for approval.”

Mugford went on to say that the additional appropriation process for this is simply a note in the minutes.

“This will not reduce property taxes or any of our levies ¬ it¹s additional income,” she explained. “I believe it’s because they cut one-third of our other LOIT operating last year, which put us in quite a pinch.”

Mugford concluded by informing Council members that income from the first half was just over $79,000.

Posted on 2015 Jul 14