City Proposes Budget, Raising Property Taxes

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

September 24, 2013 Updated Sep 24, 2013 at 11:10 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – City officials proposed raising property taxes to balance the 2014 city budget.

They've chosen not to do it in the past, but Tuesday night the city proposed raising property taxes to Fort Wayne City Council in order to balance the 2014 budget.

“The action that was taken in June by the Allen County Income Tax Council has addressed the financial issues that will be facing out city for a long time,” said Fort Wayne City Controller Pat Roller. “We are in a very financially stable position, and one that we should be very proud of.”

If approved, someone who owns a $100,000 home would be paying a $1 extra per month, or $12 more dollars a year beginning in 2014.

“Some will see no increase at all,” said Roller.

City officials say for the past two years, City Council has chosen not raise property taxes. But, the property tax caps implemented by the state in 2008, has made it difficult to gain revenue.

“It dramatically changed the revenue stream for the taxing units and gave tax relief to the tax payers. So by slightly increasing our income tax by a small bit and making some of those adjustments, it just freed up some cash so that we’re able to some of the things we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but didn’t have the resources.”

The proposed budget is $146.8 million. That, in addition to slightly raising property taxes, will allow enough money to address the issues Fort Wayne residents have voiced the most concern over: public safety and roads.

The budget calls for $4.7 million to hire and train 20 new police officers and 15 new firefighters. Also, $10.3 million will go towards road repairs, which Roller says is more than doubles the amount normally allotted in the past.

"I think the budget is addressing the needs of our citizens by putting together a multitude of infrastructure projects to make our neighborhoods stronger, to make our parks up-to-date, and overall just keep our city progressing in the manner that it's going,” she said.

City officials say there are several departments whose individual budgets make up 80 to 85 percent of the total budget costs. Over the next couple weeks City Council will meet with those departments, and anticipate making a final decision Oct. 22.

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