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Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry unveils "historic" budget for 2023

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Tony Sandleben
/
WBOI News
Mayor Tom Henry rolled out his proposed 2023 budget Monday at City Hall.

Fall marks the start of two seasons in city government, spooky season and budget season. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry is sending his proposed budget to the city council after releasing it this morning at Citizens Square. And it’s a budget the City of Fort Wayne has never seen before.

“Our plans for the future call for record investments in neighborhood infrastructure improvements which ultimately will total $51.3 million,” Henry said.

The 2023 budget proposal is a direct response to calls from the public, he said.

“Over the past several years, we continuously ask our citizens, ‘what’s the most important investment in our city for you personally?’ and time and time again, they tell us public safety, infrastructure and our parks," Henry said.

Henry’s proposed budget includes an almost 7-percent decrease in the city’s tax rate and adding 15 new officers to the Fort Wayne Police Department which would bring it to a total of 500 officers, a number never before seen in Fort Wayne.

Part of the record investment includes $39.5 million for streets, roads and bridges, $6.4 million for sidewalks and alleys and $2.4 million for trails.

The Police Department will also get more body cameras for its officers and a new military bonus for officers who served in the military.

With Fort Wayne now using the rivers more, with projects like the Riverfront development, Henry’s budget also calls for a new river patrol position for the Police Department.

Henry says this large investment is only possible now thanks to patience from the public and coordination between multiple levels of government.

“It’s primarily through the efforts of City Council and the citizens in general. As you probably remember, on a couple of occasions, we asked the citizens to absorb an increase in income taxes, and that has allowed us access to more capital. The State and Federal governments have both stepped up and allowed us the (same type of) investments.”

The proposed budget now goes to the city council for approval. City Controller Garry Morr says with about 70% of the budget going toward public safety, he doesn’t anticipate the council making too many changes.

“I don’t think there’s been an appetite to look at potentially cutting our public safety," Morr said. "I think this is a solid budget. I think council will feel that way too. So, we’ll see what happens.

The Fort Wayne City Council is set to have its first reading of the budget proposal on Sept. 27.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.