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The Scoop

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Fort Wayne sets fiscal strategies meetings

Statement as issued Monday by the city:

Fort Wayne, Ind. – The City of Fort Wayne today announced that two meetings have been scheduled in an effort for citizens and business leaders to gain a better understanding of a framework of ideas that have been outlined to save the community money and bring additional revenue to the City.

Schedule of meetings:

Citizen and Neighborhood focus

*6 p.m. Wednesday, April 24

Omni Room in Citizens Square; 200 E. Berry St.

Business leaders focus

*8 a.m. Thursday, May 2

Chamber Building; 826 Ewing St.

Mayor Henry created the Fiscal Policy Group in 2012 to gain a full understanding of fiscal conditions and identify financial options available to the City to help meet fiscal challenges in 2014 and beyond.

Fort Wayne is the first city in Indiana to assemble a team of local and state experts, members of City Council and City staff to develop strategies to combat looming budget issues.

Property tax caps implemented by the Indiana General Assembly have made it more difficult for cities to meet demands and expectations. The impact of property tax caps has been in effect since 2009, and the result has been a loss of $53 million in revenue to the City.

However, through strong fiscal management, leadership and bipartisan efforts, the City’s been able to weather the storm and build a healthy savings account. But, due to continued constraints on the budget because of the tax caps, the City’s had to continue to utilize its savings account to fund essential services.

The framework of ideas that’s been developed can be accomplished while maintaining services that citizens have come to expect.

Highlights of Fiscal Policy Group’s framework of ideas:

*Add academy class for Police and Fire – 20 new police officers and 15 new firefighters

*Fund needed, annual capital improvements for streets, roads, and parks facilities

*Use portion of Legacy funds; $1 million per year for five years for neighborhood street and road improvements

*Revise benefits package that employees receive to better align with benefits offered in the private sector

*Move fire protection fees from property tax bill to City Utilities bill

*Adopt local option income taxes – Result would be increase in public safety workforce and additional property tax relief

*Explore annexations

In the coming weeks, City Council will be evaluating and discussing the framework of ideas that have been presented. The Mayor’s administration and City Council will work to make final decisions in the May-June timeframe.

Fiscal Policy Group members:

*Mark Becker, Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor

*Martin Bender, Fort Wayne City Council

*Ben Campbell, STAR Bank

*Dr. John Crawford, Fort Wayne City Council

*Larry DeBoer, Ph.D., Purdue University

*Jason O’Neill, Policy Analytics

*Ian Rolland, Retired, Lincoln National Corporation

*Pat Roller, City of Fort Wayne Controller

*Bill Sheldrake, Policy Analytics

*John Shoaff, Fort Wayne City Council

*Tom Smith, Fort Wayne City Council

*John Stafford, Community Research Institute at IPFW

*Pat Sullivan, Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce

*Brent Wake, City of Fort Wayne

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