FORT WAYNE – Mayor Tom Henry unveiled his 2013 budget Thursday, a $140 million spending plan that calls for a 5.7 percent increase in property taxes.
The state allowed the city to raise property taxes 2.9 percent last year, but the city did not. This year, the state is allowing a 2.8 percent increase, plus any increases not taken before.
Even if the full increase is approved – City Council members have already come out against any tax increase – the actual amount the city collects would only rise an estimated 4.8 percent from the $92.4 million received this year because of the tax caps.
“This is a fair budget, a balanced budget,” Henry said.
And without the tax increase, he said, drastic cuts will have to be made.
The calls by council members to use cash reserves are not workable, officials said, because they are currently at 10 percent of the budget and it would be irresponsible to let them get any lower.
City Council President Tom Smith, R-1st, said the mayor has a challenge.
“That’s taking an awfully big bite. It’s one thing to take this year’s levy (increase), but to try to take the year before’s, too, I don’t think that’s going to go over well with the council,” Smith said. “I think the council’s going to be very reluctant to approve that big of an increase.”
City officials will present the budget to the City Council on Tuesday; council is expected to review it the first two weeks in October and vote on its passage Oct. 23.
For more on this story, see Friday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Friday.