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Mayor seeks to form committee to review Legacy Fund dispersal

Mayor Tom Henry wants to revamp the review process for doling out Legacy Fund money, which will also open the door for private and nonprofit entities to apply for portions of the pot.

The city announced Wednesday the mayor’s plan for a seven-member committee to review requests for the funding, which comes from the sale and lease of city’s old electric utility.

The committee would be made up of three members of Henry’s administration, two members of City Council and two residents – one selected by Henry, one selected by the council.

With the committee, though, the mayor said proposals will be evaluated based on the guiding principles set forth in the original Legacy ordinance, which has led to projects such as the lighting of the Wells Street Bridge, the McMillen Park Community Center and the Indiana Tech Academic Center.

The city has described the funds as being designed to provide catalytic investment, leverage additional resources and directly benefit residents of Fort Wayne.

“Being able to invest in projects that set us apart from other communities makes our city a leader in economic development, job growth, great neighborhoods, and an excellent quality of life,” Henry said in a statement. “The guidelines we’ve updated continue our commitment to ensuring that the Legacy Fund is a valued community asset.”

A resolution establishing the committee will be introduced to City Council on Tuesday. It will be discussed the following week at the council’s next meeting, and a vote could take place Aug. 26.

In a statement, the city noted that private and nonprofit entities will be able to apply for Legacy money with the committee in place.

The announcement of the committee comes in the wake of a heated debate involving City Council and the city attorney over the use of Legacy money.

On Tuesday, some council members felt the city used a loophole in trying to procure the approval for Legacy Fund money to pay a contract.

According to city code, six votes are needed from the council to approve spending of Legacy money but only five votes for approving a contract.

The city had brought forth a contract to pay a company to make way-finding signs using Legacy money, meaning it needed only five yes votes for approval. Some council members suggested a new ordinance will soon be made.

But, according to a spokesman for the mayor, plans for a committee to review Legacy Funds have been in place for months, and the announcement had nothing to do with what happened at City Council this week.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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