City Council Meeting – 11/18/2008

2009 Budget Icon

The Fort Wayne City Council meets tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm in the Council Chambers.  The agenda may be downloaded here.  There are several items on the agenda in addition to the meeting providing the hopefully final budget hearing.  The 2009 Fort Wayne Citilink Budget will also be discussed.

Councilwoman Liz Brown’s proposed cuts

Councilwoman Liz Brown has submitted her proposed cuts from the 2009 City Budget which total $7,805,973.  Of this, however, she has proposed that all of the Retiree’s Health Insurance be eliminated which totals $2,207,250.  When a City employee retires after 20 years, the City picks up their health insurance premiums.  This was approved by the City Council previously.  This cut probably will not materialize this year, however, look for a continued dialogue or further discussion down the road.  This leaves $5,598,723 in cuts to be discussed.  Her proposal includes cuts to dues, postage, furniture, consultation fees, supplies, legal fees as well as personnel cuts.  It will be interesting to see if the council votes line by line or groups some acceptable cuts together and debates others.

City PIO Cut

In it’s October 28th session, the City Council voted to cut one of the Mayor’s Public Information Officers.  This was the only personnel cut to date from the budget.  The Council debated cutting it’s own part-time research assistant during the same session, but decided against.  They Mayor’s office has made it pretty clear that they do not agree nor will they accept this cut without a fight.  WANE-15 is reporting that Mayor Tom Henry would use his line-item veto to deny that cut from the budget.  

However, there has been some discussion over whether the Mayor has any veto power over a budget.  Councilman Tom Smith has stated that the Mayor has no veto power over the budget in any shape or form.  City Attorney Carol Taylor, feels that the Mayor does indeed have veto power over the budgets.  Indiana Code states that, “The executive may approve or veto separate items of an ordinance appropriating money or levying a tax.”  He also has 10 days after an ordinance is presented to him to take action.  

I do know of at least two council members who are willing to revisit the vote on this cut so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Fort Wayne Citilink Budget

Also on the agenda is the 2009 Citilink Budget.  Citilink is heavily unionized, so don’t expect to see any cuts in wages.  The one item that is interesting is the General Management area which showed a 1.53% increase in wages.  Will the City Council let this stand, or demand it be kept at the same level as 2008 due to the cutting of an increase in city workers wages?  On page 4 of the budget, Service Supplies doubled from $18,090 to $37,280.  

Tickets, Transfers Schedules only decreased by $2,000 and yet a substantial expense was eliminated when the free transfers were eliminated.  For those who don’t know, it used to be when you boarded the bus, you were asked if you needed a transfer which enabled you to switch to another bus.  If you answered yes, which a good portion of the riders did, a ticket was printed which enabled you to board your next bus without paying another fare.  

The last page, shows Dues and Subscriptions set at $33,932 which is actually down 9.64%.  It would be interesting to see exactly what this amount makes up.  Travel and meetings is set at $17,500 and advertising remains at $79,428.  I personally think this amount is extremely high and don’t understand what the amount is for.  Television ads?  I can’t tell you the last time I saw a Citilink commercial, unless it was one of those clean air commercials, that personally I think are a waste of money.  It would also be interesting to know why communications expense is so high at $16,200.  Is this for equipment, or transmission services?There were quite a few reductions in the expenses, but bottom line was only an 8.06% reduction overall.

All in all, a fun filled evening should be in store for all who attend!

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