City budget for 2021 passed at council

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – The budget for next year was the topic of discussion at Fort Wayne City Council Tuesday evening.

The plan was approved and Mayor Tom Henry released the following on the passage of the 2021 City of Fort Wayne budget:

“As we continue to work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, our community stepped up to support the City of Fort Wayne budget for 2021 that includes important investments in neighborhood infrastructure, public safety, and parks while also setting aside funds in preparation for likely ongoing challenges due to the pandemic.

Tonight’s passage of a balanced budget by City Council in a bipartisan manner will enable us to continue to serve the public with essential services without interruption.

I’m looking forward to 2021 as we’re positioned for future success and growth. Even during difficult circumstances, Fort Wayne is moving forward in a positive direction.”


ORIGINAL STORY (September 17, 2020):

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – On Wednesday, Mayor Tom Henry stressed the importance of fiscal discipline and vigilance amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he announced the City of Fort Wayne’s proposed budget for 2021.

The following was released by the mayor’s office:

“Creating the 2021 budget was unique and challenging due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Under the direction of City Controller Garry Morr, the budget was designed in a way to continue to provide essential services to residents, neighborhoods, and businesses while also setting aside funds to be able to address future financial uncertainties as a result of the pandemic. Through strong fiscal management in partnership with City Council, the City is in position to have cash reserves to be able to respond to emergencies to continue to meet the needs of the community in uncertain times.

Examples of proactive steps the City has taken to address COVID-19:
*Balancing the budget during extraordinary times

*Reducing costs by delaying non-critical projects and reducing operating expenditures through no travel and holding open certain employment positions longer

Examples of challenges associated with COVID-19:
*Revenue reductions in gasoline taxes and vehicle excise taxes
*Income taxes are projected to decrease significantly in 2022

Examples of positive indicators moving forward:
*Local assessed valuations on properties continue to rise
*The City maintains a strong financial position to help prepare for future revenue loss stemming from COVID-19
*Steady revenue growth has allowed the City to maintain a very strong fund balance over the past five years

The mayor’s office says that these are the 2021 budget highlights:
*Continuation of commitment to neighborhood infrastructure projects with a planned investment of $27.7 million, which includes $23.8 million for streets and roads, $2.5 million for sidewalks and alleys, and $1.4 million for bridges.

*The Fort Wayne Police Department will have 480 officers patrolling City streets to protect the public. The FWPD plans to add 100 body cameras for officers and a civilian position to manage the body camera program. The FWPD is also planning to have a lateral officer recruit class in 2021. In addition, the department is proposing an upgrade to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

*The Fort Wayne Fire Department plans to add two new engines to replace Engine 16 and Engine 18. Two academy classes are planned to include 18 recruits in each class. Improvements to the live burn training facility would allow the FWFD to add a three-story apartment building simulator. The department is also looking to enhance and make continued investments in its specialty team training.

*Investments in maintenance projects through the Parks & Recreation Department to total $3 million

*Utilization of the State of Indiana’s allowable tax levy to assist in preserving funding to provide essential services

The property tax supported budget, also known as the Civil City budget, totals $186 million. This budget does not include Fort Wayne City Utilities, which has its own budget funded by ratepayers.

“We recognize 2020 has been a challenging year so far, and we know there will be more uncertainty for the foreseeable future as a result of the pandemic. However, by working together, our community has stepped up and supported one another, and as a municipality, we’ve been able to continue to serve the public without interruption,” said Mayor Henry. “I’m encouraged with the budget that’s been put together for 2021. It strikes the necessary balance of making meaningful investments to enhance Fort Wayne while at the same time helping to ensure that funds are set aside to respond accordingly during these unprecedented times.”

Mayor Henry’s Administration will present the budget to City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The budget is available here.

There have been positive results in Fort Wayne in 2020 even through the challenging times being experienced in our city, state, and country. Fiscal responsibility is an area that has helped Fort Wayne achieve national recognition in 2020.

Highlights of awards:
*Community of the Year from Indiana Chamber of Commerce

*5th lowest cost of living city in the country and 1st in Indiana by Niche

*8th best run city in the country by WalletHub

*2nd best city in the country to work from home by Grow + Acorns

*14th best city in the country to work from home by AdvisorSmith

* ranked Fort Wayne in the top 50 cities in the nation for combined job opportunity, cost of living, and income potential for recent college graduates

*40th best city in the country for first-time home buyers by WalletHub

*RealtyHop ranked Fort Wayne as the 3rd most affordable city in the country for June 2020