Fort Wayne Councilmen, Mayor Share Goals For Proposed Income Tax Increase

Jun 13, 2017

Credit Zach Bernard/WBOI News

Mayor Tom Henry and members of the Fort Wayne City Council provided more details on a proposed income tax increase to help fund riverfront and infrastructure projects. The increase being proposed is 0.15 percent, which would bring the local tax to 1.5 percent.

The bipartisan group met in the foyer of Citizens Square Tuesday. They noted the city’s intention to spend $40 million in public funding on improvements to sidewalks and alleys over the next 10 to 15 years, while partnering with property owners to build new walkways.

Henry has endorsed the measure since it was revealed, saying it can help the city move forward.

“What these councilman have proposed is a road towards progress," says Henry. "It’s a road they wish to take to help this city become all it could be. They told you about a plan; a road map.”

City Council president Tom Didier says it’s important to remember the measure is only a proposal and is subject to change after public discussions.

“It’s whether we want to move in the direction to help the city, grow in the right manner, whether it’s 0.15, 0.12 or 0.10, whichever direction we go will be for the betterment of this community,” Didier says.

Councilman John Crawford, who proposed the measure, says a public hearing will take place on June 27 and hopes for a final vote on July 11; the public is invited to both meetings.

He also says the money will be earmarked solely for riverfront and sidewalk/alley improvements.

Neighborhood sidewalks and alleys highlights:
· Investment of $40 million over the next 10-15 years into sidewalks and alleys
· Build 40 miles of new sidewalks for connectivity from neighborhoods to schools, adding to the 1,600 miles of sidewalks in Fort Wayne
· Repairs on existing sidewalks – up to 200 additional projects with property owners
· Invest in and increase life span of the City’s 150 miles of alleys
· 24 elementary schools with neighborhood to school sidewalk connectivity needs have been identified and 63 neighborhoods with alleys in need of improvements have been identified. A complete list can be found at www.cityoffortwayne.org/sidewalksandalleys.
· If the proposal is approved, several neighborhood sidewalk and alley projects would begin in 2018

Riverfront development highlights:
· Riverbank stabilization - $4 million investment beginning in 2018
· Riverfront Phase II - $25 million for continued development of public spaces between the Wells Street and Ewing Street bridges with possible construction beginning in 2019
· Riverfront phase III - $50 million for development of public spaces between the Ewing Street and Van Buren Street bridges with possible construction beginning in 2024
· Phases II & III will expand public amenities, increase flood capacity of public space, & create private development sites near the river