$25 million of Legacy Funds now allocated

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Legacy Fund is expected to be a little over $79 million, once all the money comes in.  Now that city council approved $5 million to fund the Ash Brokerage Building project’s parking garage, a little more than $25 million in Legacy dollars has been allocated.

Legacy funds come from two sources. The first is an agreement between the city and Indiana and Michigan Power, called the City Light Lease Settlement. Under the terms, I&M is scheduled to pay the city $39.2 million over 15 years. The final payment is set to come in 2025.

The other source is equivalent to a trust fund that I&M put money into for 35 years by using annual Light Lease payments.  I&M stopped putting money into the trust on February 28, 2010.

Click here to learn more about the settlement.

The city can also make a lot of money on interest. If no more money is spent between now and 2025, which is not expected to happen, the fund would grow to $101.8 million.

“There is definitely an intent to keep the money saved for Legacy projects for future years,” Pam Holocher, the deputy director of Fort Wayne Community Development, said. Holocher helped NewsChannel 15 break down the numbers Thursday afternoon. “We want money there for your kids, for my kids.”

The exact amount promised to be spent is $25,024,805 after city council approved $5 million for the Ash Building project parking garage Tuesday night.

Click here to look at a spreadsheet from the city.

Here is how the money breaks down:

-In 2013, $2,988,588 was spent on the following:

-So far in 2014, $15,648,273 has either been spent or will be spent on the following:

  • Youth Sports Assessment – $4,464
  • McMillen Community Center – $1,857,351
  • Ewing/Fairfield Roundabout – $2,348,838
  • Trail Development – $400,000
  • Neighborhood Infrastructure – $1,291,450
  • Downtown Overpass – $599,871
  • City Gateways – $396,279
  • Downtown Trust – $1,000,000
  • Riverfront Study – $450,000
  • Embassy Theatre – $750,000
  • Wayfinding – $250,000
  • Ash/Bean Investment – $5,000,000
  • Questa Scholarship – $200,000
  • Educational Services – $100,000
  • University of Saint Francis – $1,000,000

-In 2015, $3,987,934 is so far expected to be spent on:

  • Trail Development – $487,934
  • Neighborhood Infrastructure – $1,000,000
  • Air Service – $300,000
  • Questa Scholarship – $200,000
  • University of Saint Francis – $2,000,000

-In 2016, $1,200,000 is so far expected to be spent on:

  • Neighborhood Infrastructure – $1,000,000
  • Questa Scholarship – $200,000

-In 2017, $1,200,000 is so far expected to be spent on:

  • Neighborhood Infrastructure – $1,000,000
  • Questa Scholarship – $200,000

The idea of the Legacy Fund is to finance projects that have an everlasting impact on the community.

“If we don’t get another transformational project for another five years, I don’t think the [mayor's] administration feels that we need to keep spending the money,” Holocher said.  “It depends on what projects are presented.”

While a parking garage alone doesn’t have many everlasting benefits, city leaders said what comes with the garage will have a huge impact.

“We know we needed housing and we wanted more retail,” stated Holocher, regarding the Ash project.  “We saw that a change in the skyline meant that we were growing.  Parking garages aren’t a real sexy thing to an investor, but they would keep an investor from investing if we didn’t have enough parking.”

Councilman Mitch Harper said he wanted to see city leaders start looking at ways to put money back into the Legacy Fund, and thought the parking garage could be one solution.

“I’d like to see some return of Legacy funds, even though they may be years off,” Harper, who represents the city’s fourth district, said.  “We intend to operate this like a foundation of Fort Wayne.  I’d like to see more concern given to find ways to get cash flow back into the Legacy Fund when we spend such large sums.”

Holocher said plans are in the works to find a way to measure if a project merits Legacy dollars.  A Legacy Task Force had been formed to find out what the community would like to see the money spent on.  “We have a good understanding on how the community wants to see the funds be used,” she said.

In August of 2013, the city released the plans of nine projects. Click here to read more about those.  Some of the projects have already begun.

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