Mayor Shares Plans On Legacy, Aqua In "State of City" Address

By Jeff Neumeyer

February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 7:06 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Fort Wayne's mayor says the city needs to become more engaging and innovative to land new jobs and deal with mounting budget challenges.

That statement was one of the highlights of Tom Henry's 2013 "State of the City" Address.

A crowd at the main library downtown greeted him with a rousing ovation, but the mayor knows his favor with voters increasingly depends on his job performance in doing more with less.

He cited creation of a fiscal policy group, a first of its kind in the state, that's developing strategies to deal with looming budget issues, as property tax caps limit city government income.

" As we look at the 2014 budget cycle, tough decisions will have to be made," Henry said.

One source of potential revenue growth relates to the mayor's ongoing effort to bring 12,000 Aqua Indiana customers in southwest Fort Wayne over to City Utilities.

The mayor reiterated that he has serious concerns about Aqua's ability to provide quality, reliable, and affordable water to its clientele.

The city is in price negotiations to try and make the conversion happen.

" This is about public health and public safety. Those issues cannot be compromised. This is a top priority for my administration. This is the fair thing to do, this is the right thing to do," the mayor said.

The mayor also used the address to highlight the Legacy Fort Wayne initiative, which city officials figure will spearhead ambitious riverfront development.

" I'm pleased to announce that the request for proposals for our city's first comprehensive study of our rivers will be issued next week. And, we're confident this study will provide the road map to a world class investment," Henry said.

" I think he's got a good story to tell, in terms of reflecting economic development within the community," said Democratic 6th District Council Member Glynn Hines.

Tom Didier said the mayor’s speech had energy, but he was disappointed that he did not talk about what he intends to do about crime problems on the southeast side.

" It really needs to be focused on, especially with all the murders and things like that, that are happening on that particular side of town," said the Republican City Council President.

Part of the answer, Henry believes, should come from citizens, who the mayor challenged to make a difference at work, home and in their neighborhoods.

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