The City Council meeting on Tuesday was quite interesting. Here are my highlights:
A. The City Council unanimously decided to NOT increase the property tax levy for the City by the maximum amount possible. For several years the City Administration has "pushed" to increase the property tax levy by the maximum amount per year. This year was no exception; however, The City Council did not go for it.
Jeff Pruitt has a couple of great posts on this at Fort Wayne Left:
The press coverage in the main stream media on this topic is not adequate. There are several things that need to be emphasized:
1. The City Council did cut the budget by a little over a million dollars; however they in general did not cut spending. Instead they lowered the police and fire budgets since those budgets always assume 100% manning and there is not 100% manning due to sickness, attrition, retirement, etc.
2. Most important is the fact that the City's current cash balance includes 4.8 million dollars that is "earmarked" for the Police and Fire Pension Plans. Unfortunately, the money has not been moved into a designated "sinking fund" to ensure that the money both generates interest and that the money cannot be "used" for other purposes. Next year's City Budget "earmarks" another 1.6 million dollars for the City Police and Fire Pension Plan. Unfortunately this money is also not in a designated Fund; it is instead part of the City's cash balance.
I brought this fact up in the public comments section. I hope that City Council rectifies this as soon as possible. The money needs to be removed from the cash balance and needs to be put into a designated Fund to protect it.
I am not in favor of the actions City Council took. The City of Fort Wayne has a large amount of debt that future taxpayers will have to pay. As Jeff Pruitt said; "They are just kicking the can down the road."
B. Councilman Talarico requested he be removed from a Committee that he had volunteered for at an earlier meeting. He stated that he thought there were enough public officials in the group and that it needed more citizen involvement. I was extremely impressed that Sam Talarico made these comments.
C. City Controller Pat Roller made a presentation in which she showed the current Pension shortfall to be 226 million dollars and a health shortfall of 40 million. I have looked at the City's CAFR statement for 2006 and I noticed the pension shortfall to be 244 million dollars; however,
she may have more up to date information that that listed on last year's CAFR.
D. Tom Hayhurst did not have his best moment at the end of the City Council Meeting. Jeff Pruitt has posted video of Councilman Hayhurst's rant over at Fort Wayne Left:
It was an interesting City Council meeting to say the least.