City budgets for 28 new officers, $23M in infrastructure

City of Fort Wayne's proposed 2017 budget is $158 million

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The city of Fort Wayne’s proposed 2017 budget calls for 28 new Fort Wayne Police officers and nearly $24 million in neighborhood street, road, and sidewalk improvement projects, city officials touted Thursday.

Mayor Tom Henry presented his $158 million spending plan from his Citizens Square office Thursday next to City Controller Len Poehler. The budget, a balanced one supported by city property taxes, addresses needed services for residents, neighborhoods and businesses, officials promoted.

“We’re seeing momentum, investments, and excitement in Fort Wayne like never before. I’m encouraged the 2017 budget places a priority on public safety, neighborhood infrastructure, and our award-winning Parks,” said Henry. “Strong leadership and placing an emphasis on moving our community forward in the right direction with fiscal discipline is resulting in thriving neighborhoods, a positive business climate, and new jobs.”

The budget includes earmarked funds for 28 new city police officers. If approved and hired, the new class would push the Fort Wayne Police Department’s force to more than 460 officers, the city said.

“The impact of this budget let’s us go just above our allotted of 460 in anticipation of known retirements so we can stay at, or hopefully just above, 460 through 2017,” Chief Steve Reed said.

The spending plan also calls for $23.8 million to be dedicated to neighborhood street, road, and sidewalk improvement projects, and $7.7 million in maintenance projects at city parks. The parks funding includes a park bond to be considered by the Board of Park Commissioners and City Council, the city said.

Officials said 44 percent of taxpayers are already at the property tax cap. For those who aren’t at the tax cap, they’ll likely see less than a one percent increase in taxes. Mayor Tom Henry is hopeful the budget won’t hit many roadblocks in council.

“Most of our budget is public safety, it is parks, it is public works and most of the money within that is personnel, so I hope we don’t have too many obstacles thrown at us because we’ve pretty much given council what they’ve asked for,” Henry said.

There are several new members on council heading into this year’s budget session.

“We have four new council members and several of them ran on very conservative platforms that they want to cut everything possible so they’re going to be looking very closely for cuts and I always do every year too,” City Council finance chair John Crawford said.

Fort Wayne City Council will consider the budget Sept. 27.

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