2012 FW Budget: Cut Millions or Balance With Cash Savings?

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

September 27, 2011 Updated Sep 27, 2011 at 10:51 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Should Fort Wayne city leaders make millions in cuts or raise property taxes?

That is the debate as Fort Wayne City Council mulls over Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's 2012 budget.

Council members sat through a two-hour presentation and Q&A session with Fort Wayne City Controller Pat Roller Tuesday night.

Roller said Mayor's Henry budget will keep spending flat.

She said the budget will be balanced and boasts a "healthy" cash reserve of $24 million.

However, the major point of contention Tuesday was the idea of raising property taxes by 2.9% or using cash reserves to cover that portion of the budget, which is estimated between three to four million dollars.

The total 2012 budget is projected at $180.4 million.

Democrat Councilwoman Karen Goldner said the city should not raise property taxes by 2.9%.

Goldner said the city should use a small portion of the $24 million in cash savings.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry is on record saying that he supports Goldner's idea of using "cash reserves."

However, Republican Liz Brown said neither the Mayor Henry's original idea of raising property taxes, or Goldner's idea of replacing a tax increase, with cash reserves is a good idea.

"The last thing we want to do is raise people's property taxes. I don't support the levy," Brown told Indiana's NewsCenter.

Reporter: So you're saying you don't support Councilwoman Goldner?

"No I don't support taking money from our cash reserves yet. It's not a need. It's a want. I don't think we should do it. I think we should cut," Brown explained.

Brown continued that she has already identified two million in cuts.

She will most likely identify additional cuts over the next few weeks.

Council members are expected to modify and then approve the budget on Tuesday, October 25.

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Meanwhile, Mayor Henry's office said Fort Wayne is $176.5 million in debt.

According to Fort Wayne's City Controller Pat Roller's, "Where we've invested resources" PowerPoint slide:

-$9.4M is for Parks

-$21.5M is for Annexation

-$34.5M is for Southeast Development

-$50.6M is for Downtown Development

-$16.5M is for the Relocation of the Fort Wayne Police Department

-$34.6M is for Infrastructure

-$9.4M is for City Vehicles & Equipment

Roller also said the proposed budget would pay down $16 million in 2012 of the city's $176 million.

She continued that 41% of the debt would be paid down 2015.




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