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City’s fiscal approach is on the money

Capital Improvement Plan will help to ensure success

Roller

The city of Fort Wayne is experiencing positive momentum through proactive bipartisan efforts to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

We’ve positioned our community for growth and success by providing essential services to citizens and being a progressive destination place for new businesses and jobs.

As a way to continue to advance our city, Mayor Tom Henry’s administration recently presented a Capital Improvement Plan to City Council.

The CIP provides details on revenues and expenses for capital investments, including streets, roads, sidewalks, trails, parks and equipment for our police and fire departments.

The CIP is a product of the recent work performed by the Fiscal Policy Group, which determined it would be more effective to separate the city’s CIP from the city’s operating budget analysis. Under Henry’s leadership, Fort Wayne was the first city in Indiana to assemble a Fiscal Policy Group to develop strategies to proactively address budget issues.

The group developed a framework of ideas to save money and bring additional revenue to the city. The ideas ultimately led to passage of a financial plan that will sustain the community and make Fort Wayne viable for years to come.

Our CIP is a continuation of a series of successes resulting from the city’s commitment to meeting the needs of citizens.

In July, the Fire Department announced plans to add 15 new firefighters, the Police Department announced 20 new police officers will be hired, and the Parks Department announced plans to invest $3 million annually in projects.

Last month, the City’s Public Works Division announced its plan to invest $13.6 million in annual maintenance to the city’s transportation system (streets and roads) through a pay-as-you-go process without borrowing money.

To complement the additional financial resources that will be available, we’re also advocating a 10-year $30 million bond which, along with pay-as-you-go projects, would allow the city to complete the backlog of street and road projects by the end of 2018.

This is a win-win situation to blend borrowing and cash to meet critical needs in our community.

Bonding for the backlog is not a new idea. This concept was covered throughout the fiscal policy process and discussed in detail at the June 18 City Council meeting.

This is an innovative and thoughtful approach to getting our transportation system on a recommended maintenance schedule.

I can assure taxpayers that Fort Wayne is not a “tax, spend and bond” city. We’re a city that leads and makes decisions and investments based on what will move our community forward to promote better streets and roads, public safety, excellent parks, a great quality of life and stronger neighborhoods.

We want the community to be engaged in the decision-making process. Now more than ever is that important because of tax caps and circumstances that challenge cities and towns.

That’s why we’ve spent the past year with local and state experts, elected officials, and community, business and neighborhood leaders to come together to determine the most economic and efficient method of addressing the services to be delivered to our citizens. It was a bipartisan effort that made this effort so successful.

At the local government level, we have a responsibility to get the facts out to our citizens, and we take pride in meeting those expectations so that wise and informed decisions are made.

Pat Roller is controller for the city of Fort Wayne. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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