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2 public meetings to focus on Fort Wayne's plans for tax increases, spending cuts

Monday, April 8, 2013 - 1:34 pm

Fort Wayne city officials have scheduled two public meetings to discuss a mix of cost-cutting and increased fees and taxes proposed to help avoid budget shortfalls in coming years.

A meeting focused on residents' and neighborhoods' concerns will be 6 p.m. April 24 in the Omni Room in Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St.

A meeting focused more on the impact on businesses will be at 8 a.m. May 2 at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, 826 Ewing St.

City officials blame much of this emerging budget problem on property-tax caps. They say that since 2009, the cap has resulted in a loss of $53 million in revenue to the city. They summarize the major elements of the fiscal proposal as:

*Add academy class for Police and Fire – 20 new police officers and 15 new firefighters

*Fund needed, annual capital improvements for streets, roads, and parks facilities

*From the Legacy fund, use $1 million per year for five years for neighborhood street and road improvements

*Revise benefits package that employees receive to better align with benefits offered in the private sector

*Move fire protection fees from property tax bill to City Utilities bill

*Adopt local-option income taxes to fund increase in number of public-safety worker and to provide additional property-tax relief

*Explore annexations