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Fort Wayne budget discussions for 2022 begin in City Council

FILE PHOTO: Rebecca Green

The City of Fort Wayne formally revealed its budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year to City Council during its weekly meeting Tuesday night.

While Mayor Tom Henry and city departments collaborate to write the budget annually, Council serves as the city’s fiscal body. While Council does not have the power to add items to the budget, it can suggest and make cuts.

City controller Garry Morr delivered the city’s presentation to Council Tuesday. It did not differ much from the mayor’s reveal two weeks ago: full implementation of body cams for police officers, two new trucks and a new station for the fire department, and $29.1 million in neighborhood infrastructure work.

Morr concluded by touting the city’s total of nearly $28 million investment in sidewalks and alleys under the 2017 local income tax hike, police and fire departments being at full target staffing, and noting that the city finds itself in a “strong financial position.”

But Council largely makes its budgetary decisions on open discussions with departments, and as is custom, the police department one of the first to lead off those meetings Tuesday night.

Police Chief Steve Reed noted that money was not budgeted for body cameras because the cost was covered by a grant, and implementation of about 300 cams will take place in 2022.

3rd District Republican Tom Didier expressed a concern over speeding and motorists blowing red lights becoming more frequent around the city. Reed says officers focus on both service calls and traffic, but more help will be needed in the future to fully address the issue.

“Calls for service is our number one priority, after that is trying to address violent crime issues, and then the numbers start to wane," Reed said, referring to staff size. "Our officers do work traffic, they do a good job, there are a lot of people violating traffic laws, which we will address and intend to address.”

Council also met with the heads of the Fort Wayne Fire Department, Animal Care and Control, and Public Works departments.

The 2022 fiscal year budget must be approved before November 1.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.