City Leaders Debate What Financial Plan Is Best For The City's Future (VIDEO)

By Emma Koch

June 11, 2013 Updated Jun 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- Two republican Fort Wayne city council members reiterated Tuesday that a local income tax hike, championed by Mayor Tom Henry is not justified.

Russ Jehl and Mitch Harper told reporters Tuesday morning that a combination of spending cuts and revenue generating options can produce enough money to keep the city budget in good shape in 2014 and beyond, without raising income taxes.

The Henry Administration says a fiscal policy group studied the issue and concluded "the alternative proposal that's been presented by Harper and Jehl is not viable or sustainable to meet the city's needs."

Harper says it's the mayor's plan that's off base.

"It would be sort of a wrong step in terms of a recovering economy in this era for local units of governments to step in and increase income taxes for folks, at a time when the state is trying to back off," Harper said.

The issue will be opened up to comments from citizens at a public hearing Tuesday night at the Citizens Square Building beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Press Release From Mayor's Office
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry Tuesday continued his call for support for the City’s financial plan for the future. The plan combines savings to taxpayers, while also increasing revenues to keep Fort Wayne sustainable and continue a quality of life that builds for the future.

What the plan that’s been presented to City Council would do:
*Add 20 more police officers
*Add 15 more firefighters
*Increase the amount of street improvements from 34 miles this year to 70 miles each year in future years without having to borrow money
*Improvements to Parks facilities without having to borrow money
*Property tax relief for homeowners
*Small increase in income tax in order to continue with important, necessary services that citizens expect and deserve and would still have one of the lowest income tax rates in northeast Indiana

“We’re at a critical time in the history our City,” said Mayor Henry. “We must invest in our community and look to the future. City Council has been presented with a plan that will sustain our City and position us to be able to have tremendous neighborhoods, a great quality of life, job growth, business expansion, additional police officers and firefighters, and improvements to our streets, roads, and parks.”

In addition, Fort Wayne’s Fiscal Policy Group recently conducted its final meeting. The group concluded the financial plan presented by the City is a reasonable approach to meet the community’s needs. The group also concluded the alternative proposal that’s been presented by two City Council members is not viable or sustainable to meet the City’s needs.

Mayor Henry established the Fiscal Policy Group in 2012 to develop a framework of ideas to save money and add revenue meet the financial needs of the City. Property tax caps implemented by the Indiana General Assembly have resulted in a loss of $53 million in revenue to the City.

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