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Henry: Fort Wayne faces tough fiscal choices

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 3:46 pm

While Mayor Tom Henry's sixth State of the City speech Wednesday focused on Fort Wayne's achievements, the mayor also acknowledged a tight fiscal situation that will lead to some tough choices in 2013.

Compared with many cities, Fort Wayne has maintained a strong financial position despite state property tax caps and other factors that have led to a steep decline in revenue for local governments, Henry told an audience gathered in the auditorium of the downtown Allen County Public Library.

"City government finances are changing, and they're becoming more and more challenging," Henry said in prepared remarks. "In Fort Wayne, though, through strong fiscal management, leadership and bipartisan efforts, we've been able to weather the storm."

In response to the tight financial situation, Henry last year formed a study group of fiscal policy experts to look at ways to bridge a projected $6 million annual budget gap facing the city.

That group is expected to report back in the next few weeks, Henry said in his speech. City officials have said the group will assemble a menu of options, including new local income taxes and budget cuts, to address the budget problem.

"We have to figure out what we're going to do over the next few months to make sure our budget for 2014 is in check," said City Council President Tom Didier, R-2nd. "Hopefully we don't have to raise taxes. I'm sure that's not what people want to hear."

In his speech, Henry did not go into detail about what steps the city might take.