Elected officials ask GFW to detail tax hike lobby

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A coalition of 18 local elected officials have asked the city’s economy and community driver, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., to explain its use of taxpayer dollars in an apparent effort to lobby for tax increases.

The letter, drafted by Fort Wayne City Councilman Russ Jehl (R-2nd) to Greater Fort Wayne Inc. CEO Eric Doden and signed by 18 City, County and State legislators, accused the alliance of “advocating for higher income taxes and sales taxes” in its legislative agenda. In it, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. listed as priorities pushes for the adoption of a .05 percent County Economic Development Income Tax to support the Road to One Million Plan, and a 1 percent county sales tax for Regional Cities projects through a local voter referendum, among others.

Those lobbying efforts, the letter detailed in the letter, were previously accomplished by the Chamber without taxpayer funds. Jehl wrote that elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the interests of taxpayers.

SEE | Joint letter to GFW

“The potential use of taxpayer funds to advocate for additional taxes upon the very people we represent is contrary to that goal,” Jehl wrote in the letter.

The letter urged Greater Fort Wayne Inc. to take “careful consideration” into determining whether the type of growth the alliance is working toward can be accomplished without increasing taxes.

Jehl wrote that a study has not been done prior to Greater Fort Wayne Inc’s decision to lobby for tax increases.

The letter said the elected officials want “better understanding” the compatibility of taxpayers’ and businesses’ interests with Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s lobbying agenda.

It called for a response from the alliance before its funding application will be considered.

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