In this difficult economy governments and residents alike are faced with many tough decisions. The recession, tax restructuring and reassement have contributed to reduced tax revenues for the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County and the State of Indiana. Fortunately, I knew the City would face these serious financial issues more than two years ago. That is when I began the process of budget cutting and was able to build a $23 million cash surplus. Now, the Allen County Council is holding its budget hearings. The County is considering cutting services to citizens, eliminating employees and raising property taxes.
Recently, I offered several proposals to the Allen County Commissioners and Allen County Council on ways in which the City and County governments could merge services and save taxpayer dollars. Now is the time for the City and County to work together. We serve many of the same constituents and I know we can build a stronger future for our community by exploring new ways to save tax dollars, deliver better services and make government easier to use.
Already the City and County collaborate on several successful projects including the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, the 800-megahertz radio system, the Fort Wayne Police Department’s processing of the Allen County Sheriff Department’s latent fingerprints, the Downtown Blueprint, the Comprehensive Planning process, joint purchasing of fuel and paper commodities, and West Nile disease prevention.
I propose we consider expanding this cooperation and collaboration. Through a simple contract for services between the City and the County, we could make greater efficiencies in several areas. I have recommended that the City provide radio shop repair and installation services to the County as well as police records service. I also have suggested that the City manage City and County planning, economic development and redevelopment services. And I believe the City Parks and Recreation Department could manage the 4 County parks.
These suggestions could save Fort Wayne and Allen County taxpayers an estimated $2 million. They are areas in which the City and County have an established history of collaboration and they can be implemented under existing Indiana State law. I hope that the City and County will soon begin discussing these recommendations.