The Fort Wayne City Council met in committee Sept. 17 to discuss a handful of topics, including its resolution that would rearrange some of the appropriations outlined in Mayor Tom Henry’s Investing in Neighborhoods Now program.
During prior meetings, council members expressed frustration over the lack of communication between council and the mayor’s office regarding the allocation of $3.86 million in funds given back to the city by way of income taxes. In response, the majority on council chose not to move forward with Henry’s plan, claiming they would wait until after they received the 2020 budget.
Shortly after, council members came out with their own resolution, proposing that certain monies be taken out of categories such as façade grants and put into the neighborhood associations. As a result, the appropriations outlined in this new resolution would see $1.25 million rerouted, including $1 million to fund various projects in each of the city’s quadrants.
The mayor’s office responded shortly after the council’s resolution was made public. John Perlich, public information officer for the city, advised Business Weekly that the council had not reached out to the mayor’s office before the resolution’s release.
“The original plan submitted to City Council for approval had strong public support,” Perlich said in an email to Business Weekly. “Mayor Henry and city employees have been and continue to be champions of making neighborhood investments and meeting the needs of residents and businesses to move our community forward in a positive direction.”
Republican mayoral candidate Tim Smith also weighed in on the situation, questioning the motives of the Democratic mayor’s original plan. He also said that he had been in favor of the council’s first decision that involved holding onto the money and injecting it into the 2020 budget.
“I would consider this money as part of the broader 2020 budget,” Smith said. “… It is a more prudent approach to consider a recent cash infusion as part of the broader financing strategy as opposed to short-term thinking.”
According to council member Michael Barranda, R-at large, the resolution has two purposes. The first is to set aside more money for the neighborhoods, and the second is to encourage a conversation between the council and Henry.
“I think we would be a more productive government if our two bodies worked better together,” Barranda said. “What this is doing is in the spirit of collaboration inviting the Mayor to a discussion with members of council regarding the appropriations.”
Overall, the council was pleased to see the resolution had more money earmarked for their constituents, the ones who live, work and pay taxes to the city. Even council member Geoff Paddock, D-5th, who had been a staunch supporter of the original proposal handed down by Henry, said that he liked the increased funding for the neighborhoods. Council member Glynn Hines, D-6th, shared similar sentiments.
The resolution received a do pass recommendation of 7-1 by the council. Council member Thomas Didier, R-3rd, was absent from the night’s proceedings.
The council also voted do pass on a proposed expansion to the Jefferson-Illinois Road TIF.