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Editorial

Wise local moves

A bumpy drive through town offers incontrovertible proof to claims from city officials that area roads and streets need more attention. Budget constraints have led city leaders to delay needed infrastructure investment. But the recent income tax increase will allow Fort Wayne motorists some relief.

In June, the Fort Wayne City Council voted to increase the income tax rate from 1 percent to 1.35 percent, which will generate about $13.5 million in new revenue for the city to spend on needed services. City officials decided to spend $3 million for park maintenance, $2.8 million to hire additional police and firefighters and the rest on streets and roads.

“It’s basically tripling the investment we had this year,” said Bob Kennedy, director of public works. “It’s going to be a busy construction season. Residents are going to have to be patient and careful because there are going to be a lot of orange barrels and cones everywhere.”

Kennedy said millions will be invested in projects throughout the city, with most of them occurring in neighborhoods.

City street officials plan to use the money to pay for 50 miles of asphalt resurfacing, 10 miles of concrete street reconstruction, repairs to brick streets and dozens of other road improvement projects in 2014. For comparison, the city resurfaced 20 miles of asphalt and about 2 miles of concrete this year.

The loss of revenue as a result of state property tax caps forced the city to delay road repairs and caused a significant backlog of needed maintenance and improvement projects. City leaders estimate the backlog includes $60 million worth of projects.

Even with the tax increase, it is going to take the city years to catch up with the community’s needs.

Kennedy said the goal is to get to a point that the city is resurfacing asphalt streets on a 15-year cycle and concrete on a 25-year cycle.

Nobody likes a tax increase, but without the additional money only a fraction of the recently announced road improvement projects would be possible.

Major Moves injected some much-needed resources into state transportation projects.

The city’s increased tax revenue will do the same.

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