FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Tuesday evening’s Fort Wayne city council meeting saw a number of cuts to the 2022 budget before it eventually passed 8:1.
“The budget tends to grow more than the economy in the area does so it’s going beyond the wherewithal of the people of Fort Wayne,” said Councilman Jason Arp (District 1). “It’s growing more than what people are able to pay.”
Councilman Arp was the only member of the council to vote no on the $187 million budget. He has voted no every year since his election in 2015.
When WANE 15 asked members of the council what the biggest budget cut this year was, members were torn. The reason is that many say, this year, there were fewer cuts from the budget than ever before.
In total, council only cut about $400,000.
The first cut of the night was for Animal Care and Control for $54,200. Officials with the shelter spoke to the council about the need for the extra money to help expand the services and design a new wing at the shelter. In 2023, the shelter said it would ask for $550,000 to build the designed expansion.
Council voted 7:2 to cut the funds from the budget. Councilmen Geoff Paddock (5th District) and Glynn Hines (At-Large) voted to keep the request in the budget.
Also cut was the salary of the director of the department of planning services. That position serves both the county and city and is open. Council cut the director’s salary by $140,000.
Cuts were also made to the city’s public works department to the tune of $150,000. That equates to two and a half positions. This was arguably the most favorable cut of the night.
“We were able to get our cut into the public works department budget to really signal ours with the way our administration has handled the garbage situation (Red River) and was very pleased to see that cut prevail,” said Council President Paul Ensley (District 1). “We are hopeful that the message would be received and that services would be improved.”
What stayed in the budget were new drones for the Fort Wayne Police Department and overtime for both city police and the fire department.
Council also learned that the Fort Wayne Fire Department did not receive Cares Act funds which members of the council believed would pay for the department’s overtime.
Once the budget was passed, Mayor Tom Henry released the following statement:
“We work each day in Fort Wayne to bring services to residents and businesses of our award-winning city in a fiscally-responsible manner. Tonight’s passage of the 2022 City of Fort Wayne budget positions our community for sustained growth and success. The focus on investments in neighborhood infrastructure, public safety, and parks is what the public told us they want to see tax dollars invested in. We continue to overcome challenging circumstances as a result of COVID-19, and I truly believe our best days are ahead of us.”Mayor Tom Henry
Also at the meeting, council introduced a resolution to give Penny Drip, a barber and bar, a liquor license. It passed unanimously to be discussed at a later meeting.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 9.