City Council debates Tax Levy

By Nicole Pence

June 18, 2010 Updated Jan 16, 2008 at 6:46 AM EDT

A fear that the property tax crisis across the Hoosier state could affect Fort Wayne's budget and city services? It's a great possibility. City Council reporter Nicole Pence has more.

Tuesday night city council heard from the city controller. She punches and calculates all the numbers for city budgets and tax rates.

Pat Roller presented a proposal from Mayor Tom Henry to restore the three-point-seven-million dollar cut council made last fall to the city's levy. A levy is the maximum amount the city can raise from tax-payers in property taxes.

Council had voted in the fall to cap that amount at the same, 2007 level for 2008. But, that vote was before Governor Daniels came out with his bill to change how properties are assessed.

Now, Fort Wayne City Council is considering bringing that levy amount back, because any change in the law by the statehouse will "dramatically affect local government spending". As the controller says, the city could end up 15-million dollars in the hole.

Pat Roller/City Controller: "We'd like to think our budgets are lean, obviously we haven't added staff since 1999 and our city has grown. It is going to be somewhat painful. We might have to ask citizens what services they are willing to pay for."

Tim Pape/FW City Councilman: "If we don't get revenue replacement, we might have to delay this levy cut for a year. And, see what we can and can't afford. We make investments in the future of this city. Investments in our parks and in our public safety. Cutting those drastically, I think, would set Fort Wayne backwards.”

Council held off on the levy vote until February fifth. The Department of Local Government Finance needs council's decision as soon as possible, because without it, it slows down property tax assessments.

City Council also gave Police Chief Rusty York the o-k to buy more than three-hundred GPS tracking systems for squad cars. York says he hopes to have them synced with their equipment and put into use by June.

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