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Fort Wayne Reader
Let the budget battle begin.
Since taking office in January, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry has been warning of the need to do some drastic belt tightening. Bracing for the after-effects of property tax reform in Indiana combined with the real-time effects of a slow economy even prompted the mayor to solicit budget-cutting advice from Fort Wayne City Council members months before the 2009 budget was due.
On October 1st, the Henry Administration unveiled its proposed 2009 budget for the City of Fort Wayne. Clocking in at $134-million, the 2009 budget represents a less than 1% increase over 2008. City employees, who were usually budgeted for 3% pay raises, are slated to receive a 1.5% increase next year. However, a traditional budget worry for City employees doesn’t look so bad: health insurance costs. Thanks to what city leaders call “favorable experience,” the city’s share of insurance costs will remain flat for 2009, which means employees’ share of those costs won’t increase next year.
However, even if Fort Wayne can make it through 2009, Mayor Henry says dollar dangers lie ahead. Due to state legislation which reduced property taxes for citizens, governmental units lost revenue. The mayor warns that by 2010, severe cuts in City services, programs and jobs might be necessary.
Mayor Henry made good on a campaign promise by appointing a Business/Legislative Liaison. The job will go to Ozzie Mitson, who had been serving as a public information officer for the Henry Administration.
Mitson will function as an advocate for local businesses and will work directly with the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and public officials in the area. He’ll also track city, county, state, and federal legislation on issues that impact the city and the region.
“The Chamber looks forward to working in partnership with the city to make it easier to do business in Fort Wayne,” said Chamber CEO Kristine Foate.