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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, September 19, 2019 12:16 pm

Proposed budget calls for 2% tax rate decrease

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne's property tax rate is likely to decrease in 2020, City Controller Garry Morr said today while unveiling next year's city budget. 

Speaking to reporters, Morr said because the city's assessed value numbers are strong, the tax rate for city residents will go down by about 2%. 

The city's tax rate is determined by assessed valuation, which determines how much a piece of property, like a home, is worth. The tax rate is then applied to that figure. Fort Wayne's assessed valuation has increased significantly, Morr said, meaning property values have increased and more properties are on the tax rolls generating revenue. 

"Our share of the tax rate is going to be pushed down just because of that assessed valuation," Morr said. 

The good news, Morr said, is that the economy is strong and income tax revenues are going up. 

"Incomes are rising, there's more people working, a low unemployment rate," Morr said. "That all has an effect on, overall big picture, more revenue for the city." 

The city's total budget is about $180 million, a 2.4% increase from last year's $176 million budget. 

Highlights of this year's budget include a $33.3 million investment in neighborhood infrastructure, which includes $23.9 million for neighborhood streets and roads, $8 million for sidewalks and $1.4 million for bridges. About $3 million will go to the Parks Department for maintenance projects. 

The budget also allows for a new Fort Wayne Police academy class of 15 recruits, which will bring the number of Fort Wayne police officers to 480. The police department will also be able to add four replacement K-9s and a new bomb disposal robot and x-ray system. 

There will also be another academy class of 20 recruits for the Fort Wayne Fire Department, bringing the number of city firefighters to 368. The fire department also plans to purchase two new fire engines and a new ladder truck. 

The budget also calls for a 3% raise for city employees. 

"I've gone through this particular budget page-by-page with a lot of the division directors, the controller, with the deputy mayor and this is truly one of the best budgets I've seen this city produce in many a year," Mayor Tom Henry said. 

dgong@jg.net