You've probably heard quite a bit about the need for better cooperation between city and county government. There's no question that I as 4th District City Councilman and all city and county officials need to always be developing new areas where we can work together. This year the City Council and County Council have been meeting periodically and trying to make progress in cooperation. The meetings have opened up some important areas of discussion. Progress has been slower than expected but City and County Council members have agreed to look further into the possibility of merging departments such as the city and county communications divisions. In a few short years the City of Fort Wayne will include approximately 80% of all citizens in Allen County. We're getting to the point that it makes less and less sense to have 2 of every department at the city and county levels. Let me know your thoughts regarding this issue.
The good economic news recently is that the GE labor-management dispute was settled relatively quickly with an agreement that gives GE employees a reasonable wage increase during each year of the contract. GE is one of Ft. Wayne's oldest and most important employers so events at GE have been monitored closely. Congrats to GE workers and management! The City-County Economic Development Alliance (a good example of cooperation between the city and county and Chamber of Commerce) is continuing to work on other job leads for our city.
I'd like to take this occasion to give a big pat on the back to Police Officer Cornell Wiley who has always worked hard to protect the citizens of Waynedale, Indian Village, and all of Fort Wayne. Officer Wiley goes above and beyond the call of duty in a variety of ways including attending neighborhood meetings when he's not required to be present, patrolling his police vehicle through Waynedale in the middle of the night even when he's not officially on duty, and more recently helping with the planning for an all-Waynedale summer party later this year. Thanks from all of us to Officer Cornell Wiley!
Mayor Graham Richard wrote in his last column in The Waynedale News about the importance of protecting the residential property taxpayer from excessive taxation as taxes are shifted by court order from businesses to residential property and from newer homes to older homes. Courts or no courts, I'm pretty burnt up that a judge would basically mandate that taxes be shifted to residential taxpayers in older homes especially since many of those homeowners are on fixed incomes. The reassessment is also another wild card factor that could hurt the pocketbook of property taxpayers this fall—even tax experts don't seem to be able to provide a solid prediction as to how hard all of these factors will hit property taxpayers. With those thoughts in mind Mayor Richard and the City Council have taken various steps. The most recent was to vote to increase property taxpayers' homestead credit as is allowed by state law, effectively cutting residential property taxes. An even more important step during the next few weeks will be for the Mayor and City Council to continue to keep the property tax levy below the maximum allowed by state law if there is any way that can be done. Believe me, you won't see many other local governmental units taking that approach!
As usual, I'm always interested in your thoughts and suggestions as to how we can make our fine city an even better place to live. Give me a call or send me an email if you want to pass along any information or if I can be of help with a local government matter! Have a great 4th of July!
City Councilman—4th District