City Councilmen Talk Taxes

Fort Wayne, Ind.—Fort Wayne City Councilmen, John Crawford, R-at large, Mitch Harper, R-4th and Russ Jehl, R-2nd today unveiled steps they see as possible solutions for the Administration to save money and give back to the taxpayers. As the economy continues to limp along, the effects of the recession will be felt for years despite any improving conditions. Allowing citizens and businesses to be the retainers of their money, rather than government, the economy gets a boost.

“The private sector is where the strength of our economy lies in creating products and jobs, sustaining families and the community. I do not favor raising city property taxes at this time. Raising taxes to maintain government balances will not grow the economy as satisfactorily as allowing citizens to keep their own money for spending as it fits their needs”, said Crawford.

Suggestions by the three elected officials for keeping tax dollars in citizens’ pockets include:

1.       Freezing the property tax levy,

2.       Using Legacy funds for capital needs (not discretionary spending),

3.       Using the city’s cash balances to plug the structural deficit expected in the 2013 proposed budget.

Uncommitted cash balances: $15 million Cash balance; $3 million Rainy Day fund; $? millions in unspent, appropriated funds; $20 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds. Add to this the Legacy fund of up to $75 million and the total is over $113 millionthat could potentially be used toward getting this community back on sound economic footing without raising taxes.

“Council members are to serve as the people’s lobbyists—representing the broad interest in restraint on government’s growth and reach. The bias that exists in government for ever rising taxes must be replaced by a bias in favor of individuals and families making their own decisions and their own choices for spending their own dollars,” stated Harper. “It is most important in these times, when people face an uncertain economic recovery, that local government spending be careful, measured and limited”.

Keeping taxes low, particularly with increases in utility rates, food, gasoline and healthcare, allows citizens to use the extra money in a paycheck to spend on goods and services, or help them improve a small business. Increased productivity gives rise to new jobs and salary increases, creating an environment that attracts economic development.

“Taxpayers of Fort Wayne already pay enough and cannot afford to pay more.  Our citizens work harder, work longer and for less pay and in these difficult economic times they cannot stretch their dollars any further”, said Jehl. “Taxpayers have made their sacrifices; they expect the public sector to do the same”.

It is unfortunate that the local, state and federal economy continues to languish causing slow business growth, high unemployment and foreclosures. This is the reality.

If and when the economy picks up, then is the time for local government to look at its discretionary funds to put toward desired community projects.