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A different approach

Business and government decision-makers sometimes face a choice when costs rise steadily: Either keep prices/rates flat as long as possible then raise them significantly, or raise them gradually over time. Both have drawbacks and advantages, and the final answer often lies in the circumstances and philosophies of the decision-makers.

For example, early this year, when the Henry administration proposed increasing water rates by nearly 40 percent over a two-year period, some council members asked the city to consider a three-year phase-in, and city officials agreed.

But it appears the council’s majority is going to take the opposite approach on property taxes.

On Tuesday, the council preliminarily voted 6-3 to approve a budget with a flat property tax levy (the total amount raised by the tax). But some council members, notably fiscal hawk John Crawford, indicated residents could see a hike in property taxes in 2014 plus the possibility of a higher local income tax. He and other council members wanted to give property owners a break this year.

Which is better: Raise taxes a little in 2013 and more in 2014, or give them a break for next year before they get walloped in 2014?

The council will make the final decision next week.

Biggs’ common-sense compromise

The Allen County commissioners should take Fire Chief Amy Biggs’ wise advice: Keep the combined emergency dispatch center in the Rousseau Centre but move it from the basement to the sixth floor.

Though the commissioners had previously pledged to keep the dispatchers in what was formerly called the City-County Building, concerns that the basement space would be inadequate when new equipment is installed led them to consider sites at other buildings. But moving out of the building would not only be costly, it would eliminate many of the advantages of housing city and county public safety officials in the same building. As Biggs explained at a Tuesday meeting, having public safety officers in the same building as dispatchers helped officials respond to the June 29 windstorm that cut power to most of the city.

A move to the sixth floor would require current occupants to move, but those departments could easily relocate elsewhere in the building.

And it wouldn’t hurt for dispatchers to be able to look out a window and know firsthand about visibility problems due to weather.

A move away from the building would be a step backward, and Biggs deserves commendation for identifying an alternative.