Fort Wayne has now officially set aside its money to pave streets and remove its dead trees.
The City Council on Tuesday approved setting aside $5 million for those infrastructure projects in money received from the state’s most recent accounting error.
Specifically the council approved $3.5 million in county option income taxes for road work and $1.5 million in county economic development income taxes for ash trees – providing a vital cash infusion for a strapped city budget.
Deputy Controller Valerie Ahr told the council the city was only expecting to spend $2 million total on road infrastructure this year before the error surfaced.
“We’re not talking many miles of road,” she said of the original plan.
Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said many residents who would otherwise not have had the necessary repairs are pleased about them.
“This is good news,” he said.
The nearly tripling of the city’s road budget will allow numerous more residential street projects to be completed this year, and crews have already begun several of them. City officials previously said the money will allow the city to do about the same number of road projects as were done in 2011.
State officials in April said a programming error cost local units of government $206 million in local option income tax revenue in 2011 and early 2012, meaning $15.6 million in unexpected revenue will flow to governments within Allen County this year. Of that, $8.5 million will go to Fort Wayne. Mayor Tom Henry has said he would like to use $420,000 of the money for gateway improvements, but has not announced plans for the remainder.
The $1.5 million for ash trees was supposed to cover the cost to remove 4,500 dead ash trees along city streets, but parks officials were able to get a contract to do the work for $586,610. Henry had acknowledged the need to remove the trees previously, but hadn’t announced a way to pay for it until the state error was announced.
The contract, which the council approved on Tuesday, was so low partly because of a math error by the business owner, but he said he still plans to do the work for the price submitted.
That will leave much of the money to remove the remaining ash trees in 2013, and parks officials hope there will be money left over to plant new trees along city streets.