Richmond Police Department will pursue nearly $120,000 in grants for protective equipment.

Richmond Common Council approved 8-0 during its May 20 meeting two ordinances authorizing RPD to seek the grants. Council member Jerry Purcell recused himself from both votes because his son is an RPD officer and SWAT team member.

Chief Kyle Weatherly said RPD would request $116,000 from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for SWAT equipment. That includes 16 pieces of body armor, 16 helmets, 16 communication headsets, 16 reusable air masks and 10 protective shields.

There is no match with the IDHS grant.

A second grant, from the Patrick Leahy Bulletproof Vest fund, would entail a 50% match of $3,750 from RPD’s budget to purchase protective vests.

Council’s finance committee reviewed both ordinances prior to the full meeting and recommended approval.

Tax abatements

Liberation Labs and Silgan Whitecap Corporation have applied for city tax abatements. Both ordinances were presented to council and referred to the tax abatement committee.

Liberation Labs is requesting a real property abatement on an estimated $44 million value. The new facility in the Midwest Industrial Park is expected to result in 45 jobs with a minimum $26.04 hourly wage. Liberation Labs previously received a personal property abatement.

Silgan Whitecap requests a personal property abatement on a value of $3,862,556. The investment will retain 180 jobs that have a minimum $19.70 hourly wage.

Council’s tax abatement committee will score the requests using criteria council adopted last year to determine the length and amount of the abatements. Real property abatements have a maximum 10-year duration, while personal property abatements have a five-year maximum.

Blight program

Council voted 8-1 to accept $300,000 from Wayne County government EDIT money for a blight program that’s part of the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program. 

The money would be used to demolish homes identified through the Unsafe Building Commission. Purcell said accepting the county money would free city money for use on industrial properties.

Council member Bill Engle asked about a list of properties that would be demolished. When he was told it was under development, Engle was satisfied to proceed to vote. Council member Lucinda Wright, however, voted against approval without the list.

“I personally would like to see the list before I vote,” she said.

Sanitary office

Council unanimously appropriated $98,000 for Richmond Sanitary District’s use for purchasing a downtown office building. The money was earmarked the past two years for a solution to the district’s storage space problem.

The district has signed a purchase agreement for 25 N. Seventh St., where the billing department would be located. The agreement is for $347,500 with a $17,500 credit for roof repairs.

Camp cleanup

Mayor Ron Oler informed council members that a camp near Glen Miller Park has been removed. Oler said a dozen people have received help finding homes and 30 tons of debris have been removed from city camps.

Without the camps, Oler said, others would not settle in those areas.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 29 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.