Richmond Common Council took the next step at a Sept. 18 meeting toward finalizing its 2024 budget, and no one from the community used the available public hearing time to speak for or against the budget’s details.

The budget ordinance was tabled and is now in a 10-day waiting period before it can be formally voted on at a future council meeting; no further public comment period is expected.

The council sent several 2024 compensation ordinances to its finance committee for review. They specify no pay increases for elected city officials, no increases for nonunion civilian employees and sanitation district workers, and increases determined by collective bargaining agreements for unionized employees and sanitation district workers, including a 1.5% increase in pay for Richmond’s firefighters.

The council also deferred a decision on the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area ordinance proposed by the city administration earlier this month. Council member Ron Oler said that when the council’s safety committee met recently to review the proposal, they had “more questions than answers” and so the committee wants more time to understand the details before making a recommendation.

DORAs allow alcoholic beverages to be sold and consumed beyond areas typically designated in open container laws. In the proposed Richmond ordinance, seven businesses along with six temporary vendor locations would be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages with the relaxed guidelines. 

Oler said that the organizers of the Richmond Depot District’s Oktoberfest event, which takes place Sept. 30, are OK with not having the changes in place this year and are planning a standard beer garden.

In other business, the council advanced an ordinance that will allow the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to apply for and accept $3,000 grant funding from Indiana Humanities and Indiana Landmarks. The funds, which would require a 100% match from the city’s infrastructure account, will be used to educate area residents on repairing and maintaining historic homes and buildings. Speaking in favor of the opportunity, HPC president Tina Conti said it’s a “great need” in the community to conduct more outreach about how historic homes and buildings can be better preserved.

Council referred a proposed zoning amendment to the city’s building commission. The change would reclassify land at the south east corner of West Industries Road and North Salisbury Road from outdoor commercial to high-intensity industrial. The designation is necessary to support a warehouse storage facility Storage of America is planning at that location.

The council heard from resident Barry Cramer about his concern that INDOT’s planned updates to the I-70 / US-40 interchange do not sufficiently incorporate accommodations for bicyclists. Cramer said that while plans do include sidewalks for pedestrians at the minimum required width, the plan developed by the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Planning committee years ago would suggest going beyond the minimum to support cycling as a primary form of transportation for those going to and from work or running errands.

Cramer said that while he has attended INDOT planning meetings and communicated his concerns to officials, he would also like the council to get involved. The council thanked Cramer for his comments and council president Jeff Cappa suggested that Cramer also contact state representatives for assistance.

Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., at the city building, 50 North 5th Street, Richmond. The public may attend.

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A version of this article appeared in the September 27 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Chris Hardie is the owner and publisher of the Western Wayne News.