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Fort Wayne mayoral budget draws bipartisan support

Rebecca Green
File Photo: WBOI News

Fort Wayne’s City Council is now in what it calls the “due diligence” phase of the 2023 city budget proposal.

Tuesday night saw the final department presentation to the Council which means members will now go do more research into the proposal before returning to the body with their proposed cuts.

The current proposal, which calls for record investment in city infrastructure and, if passed, calls for the most officers the Fort Wayne Police Department has ever had, also has a six percent increase in the fire department’s budget to replace two fire engines and improve living conditions in some of the fire stations.

Fire Chief Eric Lahey said he expects to have 370 fire fighters on FWFD by the end of 2023. As a result, his department is budgeting for 383 which he said is relatively the same as every other year.

City Controller Garry Morr said the largest expense the City will face in 2023 will be when it gets new security for Citizens Square. The current contract is “well below market price.” Morr said he expects the cost to go from $19 an hour to close to $32 an hour which would be at market value.

Tuesday night’s council meeting saw the proposal get more praise from Republicans. At Large Councilman Tom Freistroffer says he’s impressed with what he has seen so far.

“I think this is the most balanced budget we’ve seen or I’ve seen in my seven years on Council,” Freisroffer said. “I’m sure that other senior members of the council can say the same thing.”

Third District Councilman Tom Didier, also Mayor Tom Henry’s opponent in the 2023 mayoral race, says he feels it will not require much compromise because those compromises have already been made.

Didier wants to call this budget the John Crawford Compromise in honor of the late former Councilman.

“John was an anchor in regarding, to working with the administration on compromise,” Didier said.

Council is set to discuss possible cuts to and vote on the 2023 city budget proposal on Oct 25.

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