I have spent the early weeks of my second mayoral term working to ensure that Fort Wayne's financial base remains strong into the future. To that end, I recently created a Fiscal Policy Working Group to examine the current fiscal landscape and provide policy guidance to City of Fort Wayne decision makers, as we move forward.
Chaired by our City Controller Pat Roller, the Working Group is composed of Larry DeBoer, Ph.D., Agricultural Economics, Purdue University; William Sheldrake, President/CEO, Policy Analytics; and John Stafford, Director, Community Research Institute, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).
Also included are the three at-large members of the Fort Wayne City Council: Martin Bender, John Crawford and John Shoaff.
The Working Group has been asked to analyze the impact on Fort Wayne of the economic downturn and changes in State law over the past decade, evaluate current fiscal policies and assess available financial options. The process will provide detailed information to assist my administration and City Council in our decision-making process.
We know from experience that a Fort Wayne that is built for success is a Fort Wayne with a strong financial foundation. Our history is one of careful stewardship and conservative management. Even in these tough economic times, we have continued to deliver the best City services and still invest for the future.
In order to keep that momentum growing, to meet the challenges and to ensure a Fort Wayne that is ready to compete, we must begin the next generation of fiscal planning now.
The Working Group's depth of knowledge and expertise are impressive:
•DeBoer has done extensive studies in state and local government public policy, including government budget and taxing options, issues of property tax assessment, local government revenue options, and the fiscal impact of economic development.
•Sheldrake has more than 20 years of experience in public policy analysis, research and finance and is a regionally-recognized leader in economic analysis. He also served as President and CEO of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute for eight years.
•Stafford has become the go-to economic resource for Northeast Indiana, through his study of economic, demographic, public finance and socio-economic issues. With his previous experience serving localities in the areas of long-range planning, zoning, economic development and strategic planning, Stafford's counsel is frequently sought by regional businesses and organizations.
I'm confident that the vital work of the Fiscal Policy Working Group will help Fort Wayne stay a vibrant community for generations to come, with the means to serve its citizens and achieve its goals. I want to thank the members of Working Group for taking on this important task.