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Council to review mayor’s budget

September 26, 2018

The Fort Wayne City Council plans to have a 2019 budget ready by Oct. 23. 

City Controller Gary Morr presented the annual budget to the city council during its meeting tonight, emphasizing that the budget is balanced as required by state law and provides funding for more police and firefighters, new streets, roads, alley, sidewalk and park projects. 

The 2019 estimated city budget comes in at 10 million higher than the $163 million 2018 budget approved by City Council last year. Council members will now explore the budget line by line and propose places to make cuts. Those cuts will be due to City Clerk Lana Keesling by Oct. 19, Councilman John Crawford, R-at large said. 

The annual city budget has been the source of some contention between city council members and officials from Mayor Tom Henry’s administration. Some council members have clamored for more input in the budget-crafting process. Although state law stipulates that the council can only make cuts to a proposed budget, there is no law prohibiting mayors or their staffs from reaching out for input from other elected officials throughout the process, Councilman Michael Barranda, R-at large, said in an email last week. 

Still, the process has been better than it has been in the past, Crawford and Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said Tuesday.

“When you took this position, you made a point of trying to engage council and encourage us to ask questions and have dialogue,” Jehl told Morr during Tuesday’s meeting. “Leading into this, I’ve been very impressed by the briefings you’ve given and the amount of information as well as meeting with me and listening to some of the priorities I have.”

In his email, Barranda said he found the process slightly better than previous years. 

“I had an opportunity to meet with Gary Morr prior to the budget being announced,” Barranda wrote. “He gave me some highlights of what to expect. But I did not get a copy of it - or a draft. I had access to it at the same time the general public had it.” 

In previous years, City Council has requested several departments appear at the table to discuss their budget requests for the coming year. Those hearings will take place throughout October. 

dgong@jg.net

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