$165M city budget supports public safety, infrastructure

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday presented the $165 million city budget he’ll present to City Council next week that calls for additional police officers and firefighters and funding for infrastructure improvements.

The budget – a balanced plan that Henry said reflect’s Fort Wayne’s position as a leader in economic development and quality-of-life amenities – allows for a $3 million investment in maintenance projects in city parks, and the hiring of 24 new police officers and 22 new firefighters. Police officials said the spending plan will allow the force to grow by 10 officers; the other 14 will replace positions vacated by retirement.

“[The public] would like us to put as much money as we possibly can into the public safety division,” Henry said. “Look, we do have challenges in our community. We know that we have an opioid crisis. We know that we still have some gang problems. We know that we’re not at all comfortable with the homicide rate.”

The budget also allows $22.5 million in funding for neighborhood street and road improvements and $6 million for sidewalks and alleyways.

“It’s the most that’s ever been spent in any given year in the city of Fort Wayne as far as infrastructure needs and wants,” Henry said.

Also, Henry wants to maintain the pride the city has in its parks. So 11 percent of the budget will be invested in maintenance projects.

“The city of Fort Wayne has almost 100 parks,” he explained. “We probably have more parks per capita than any city our size, but we need to make sure that that investment stays current and that we continue to be an award-winning parks system so we have to invest money. So that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Henry calls the 2018 budget “tremendous.”

“I continue to be encouraged by the momentum we’re experiencing in Fort Wayne. The 2018 budget places an emphasis on public safety, neighborhood infrastructure and our award-winning Parks,” said Henry. “Our proactive approach to being good stewards of taxpayer dollars helps ensure sustainability and viability now and in the future. Successful financial strategies assist us in our efforts to be a city that features a positive business climate, new jobs and thriving neighborhoods.”

The funding plan will be presented to City Council on Tuesday.

Residents can read the full budget at cityoffortwayne.org/smartgov.

Follow Kaitor Kposowa on Twitter at @kaitorWANETV.