FORT WAYNE – A majority of City Council members see nothing that needs cut in Mayor Tom Henrys proposed $147 million budget for 2014.
The City Council has been debating the proposed budget for two weeks and is expected to give it preliminary approval Tuesday and final approval Oct. 22. On Friday, council members turned in their proposed cuts to the budget, but only four of the nine members proposed any.
Those cuts totaled an estimated $515,000, less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the budget.
Russ Jehl, R-2nd, also proposed cuts in the CEDIT budget, funded by county economic development income tax money. CEDIT spending is the purview of the mayor, and the council usually rubber stamps its line items, but Jehl proposed $607,000 in cuts – 15 percent of its $4 million budget.
He calls for removing $92,000 from the incentive fund, $65,000 from the marketing fund, $250,000 from Front Door Fort Wayne and $200,000 from Bike Fort Wayne.
Jehl also proposed $350,000 in cuts to the general fund budget, including the $250,000 earmarked to design, engineer and buy land for a new fleet operations building.
Geoff Paddock, D-5th, proposed cutting the 2 percent increase in elected officials salaries, a cut of about $15,000.
John Crawford and Marty Bender, both at-large Republicans, targeted the internal audit department, as they did last year.
Both propose cutting one person from the three-person department; last year Bender proposed cutting the entire department.
Tuesday, when the council debated the departments $276,862 proposed budget, Crawford explained that its simply a philosophical question of whether its a better use of taxpayer money to do fewer audits with two people or more audits with three.
But City Attorney Carol Helton said what the city needs is more oversight and more accountability, and one more salary is a small price to pay for the oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Youre talking about four one-thousandths of 1 percent of the budget. I think its a shame to be cutting oversight, Helton said during Tuesdays discussion. This is an incredibly complex organization, and I think it would be short-sighted to make the cut.
Tracy Neumeier, director of the Internal Audit Department, said that with the cut, the department would have to outsource the work required for the State Board of Accounts, wiping out any potential savings.
Crawford also proposed cutting one position from the human resources department and $5,000 from the budget for marketing the citys 311 system.