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Supporters, Critics Voice Opinions On Income Tax Increase At Public Hearing

Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

The Fort Wayne City Council held a public hearing Tuesday to allow people to voice their opinions on whether to raise the county income tax rate. The majority of people who spoke at the hearing were in favor.

If City Council approves the .15 percent income tax increase, the local tax would be 1.5 percent. The additional money would be used to improve the city’s sidewalks and alleys and to develop the riverfront.

Forty-two people spoke at the hearing. The 26 people in favor of increasing the tax cited reasons like trying to attract new employees for businesses and keeping young people in Northeast Indiana through investing in the riverfront development project. Others cited the city’s need for improvements to sidewalks and alleys to help students walking to school. An advocate for people with disabilities, Rena Burden of Turnstone, says the improvements will help accessibility.

"It makes it easier for them to access public transportation and get to the services that they need," Burden said.

The 13 people against raising the income tax were mostly concerned about the cost to themselves and others who might not be able to afford the increase. Some were skeptical the riverfront development project will actually increase the area’s population.

Some people who spoke were in favor of the project, but against using a tax increase to pay for it.

Councilman John Crawford, who proposed the measure, is hoping City Council will vote on the measure on July 11. The public is invited to that meeting as well.

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