Friday, December 23, 2005

Respected local executives admonish Fort Wayne and Allen County officials.

The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council is a group of executives whose stated goal is to “Promote the common business interests, growth, opportunity, and general economic welfare for businesses in northeastern Indiana.”

The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council is fed up with the inability of The City of Fort Wayne and Allen County to get along and to consolidate and reduce the size of government. The Council submitted a shockingly frank editorial this week that basically states how the Council is tired of all the arguing and how they want The City of Fort Wayne and Allen County to consolidate some services and to shrink the size of government.

Furthermore, the Council is asking that "as a new election year appraoches, lets support only those candidates who commit to the efficient and effective use of tax dollars and then hold them accountable."

This is an exciting time to be a Libertarian in this region. The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council (A group of 41 prominent CEO's in this area) has told local officials that they need to shrink government and at the same time is suggesting that we only support those candidates willing to shrink government.


You can rest assured that I will contact this group and see if there is any way I can help them!

You can learn more about the Council at their website:

I have included the editorial published in The News-Sentinel below:

Posted on Wed, Dec. 21, 2005
The obstinance of local politicians impedes progress and stalls growth of our economy
What’s in a headline? “County Considers Evicting City After Renaissance Delay”
How about other headlines that have appeared this year?
“City/County Can’t Get Over Glass Wall”
“Can’t We Just Get Along”
“Sheriff’s Earnings Top $200,000”
“County Awaits City Office Plans”
“Consultant May Be Hired”
“There Is No Accounting For Space”
“Time Is Running Out”
We at the Northeast Indiana Corporate Council certainly agree with the last one – time is running out.
Who reads these headlines, anyway? Well, site selectors and consultants who advise clients on possible relocation sites do. The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council sees the inability of governments to work together as a serious roadblock to economic development and the unwillingness of many elected officials to seriously consider government cooperation – let alone consolidation – as a travesty.
We are paying a dear price for all of this bickering and almost no cooperation. We would like to see more headlines like “City-County Breakthrough,” which appeared when an agreement was reached in principle to have only one countywide homeland-security executive.
Instead of debating whether the city should move from the City-County Building into Lincoln Financial Group’s former Renaissance Square headquarters, they should be trying to consolidate and shrink the size of government as businesses have to do every day to survive. An initial study assumed a 10 percent growth in city government. We support the comments of County Council President Darren Vogt, who said, “I struggle to see the need for consistent growth in government. . . . Let’s step back and see what’s the financial impact.”
City Council President Tom Smith pointed out that if the city buys the Renaissance building, it will become tax-exempt, resulting in $400,000 to $500,000 in lost property taxes per year. Taxpayers, both business and individuals, must demand a simple accounting. Let’s see a simple comparison. On one side of the ledger, let’s list all of the properties owned and leased by the city and county. Then compare the financial change in total if the Renaissance building is acquired and other leases canceled or buildings sold. Let’s not forget all the additional move-related expenses.
We all pay county taxes, and, on Jan. 1, approximately 75 percent of us will also pay city taxes. The Renaissance move may very well be a shell game – moving our tax dollars from one government to the next. We all deserve to see how buying another city building for millions will save the taxpayer money. It’s likely the same “logic” that built several new fire stations for Fort Wayne to serve Aboite Township, where perfectly good facilities and equipment met the needs of the township. Who picks up the tab for the newfound overcapacity after annexation?
The Allen County Council showed prudence in rejecting the sheriff’s request to buy a warehouse for $750,000 to $850,000 and renovate it for another estimated $1.8 million. Let’s spend our tax dollars determining how to rationalize two local law enforcement agencies instead.
Indiana political columnist Brian Howey asked the question, “Will Indiana become an economic backwater? Or will it modernize its state, county and local governments?” All it takes is a review of Indiana’s largest employers to clearly see the problem:
U.S. government is No. 1 with 33,511
The state of Indiana is second with 13,868
Fort Wayne Community Schools ranks 22 with 4,158 employees
Fort Wayne and Allen County government employment combined reaches nearly 3,700
Contrast this with No. 8 General Motors at 10,826 and No. 12 Delphi at 6,540 and think about how they are fighting to survive.
We at the Northeast Indiana Corporate Council believe it is time for the Indiana General Assembly to allow local governments the ability to evaluate and enact a more effective and efficient form of local government structure. We will strongly encourage local government to rationalize existing redundancies and create a leadership structure that will stimulate economic growth.
Let’s hold local politicians to their word. On Jan. 26, 2004, in a joint resolution of the Fort Wayne City Council and the Allen County Council, local officials, including the three county commissioners and the city’s deputy mayor, signed a historic document. They all indicated support for the Indiana General Assembly examining local-government structure. Among other statements, it said, “The financial conditions of state government and most local units of government in Indiana dictate examining new, possibly more efficient approaches to providing public services. . . . The need to create and maintain a competitive tax climate that is supportive of the economic-development objectives of this state requires examining ways to improve local government structure and efficiency.” They also noted only eight other states have more units of local civic government – counties, cities and townships – than Indiana.
As a new election year approaches, let’s support only those candidates who commit to the efficient and effective use of tax dollars and then hold them accountable.

Written by Tom Miller, president of Lutheran Health Network; Bob Taylor, CEO of Do It Best Inc., and Northeast Indiana Corporate Council President Kirk Kemmish on behalf of the corporate council, a regional group of 41 CEOs whose mission is to promote the common business interests, growth, opportunity and general economic welfare for businesses in northeastern Indiana.


IT-Chick said...

But do you think it will fall on deaf ears? I think unless there are dollars on the line no notice will be paid.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I think The Council is saying that they will encourage people to put dollars on the line!

IT-Chick said...

Yes, perhaps I am being far too cynical. I am anxious to see how this plays out. I'd like to see a big shake up... said...

Consolidated government does not mean smaller government. Government is not like a business. The motives are different. There is no evidence that I know of that supports any savings to the taxpayers resulting from consolidation. In fact, it is more likely that consolidation removes competition and results in a more monolithic, larger and more expensive government. I would refer you to any number of articles by Sam Staley, most notably an older one (I think written in 1996) available on the Cato Institute web site.

Be careful what you wish for. While Republicans and Democrats getting tweaked may be deserved, the results of consolidation will probably not be anything a libertarian
(or Libertarian) should be excited about. All the talk about consolidation and the accompanying promises of prosperity, happiness and efficiency is only bolstered by boosters and bureaucrats from areas of alleged success.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

You make good points and I do understand them.

I tend to think we should move towards consolidating some of the local government functions.

Allen County is shrinking as Fort Wayne annexes as fast as it can. Allen County is going to keep getting weaker and weaker.

We need to shrink the size of local government however we can!

I cannot think of even ONE local politician who wants to shrink government. Lets use the Mayor and The Fort Wayne City Council as an example.

Both the Mayor and The City Council are telling everyone they are fiscal conservatives. Look at what we have:

City taxes just went up 3.9%.
Garbage fees are going up $1 per month AND everyone is forced to get a new roll away trash bin.
Storm water fees are going up 65%.
Water fees are going up 25%.

Wow. Spend, spend, and spend.

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