A courtesy public hearing was held at the Fort Wayne City Council meeting this evening. Â I spoke, followed by John B. Kalb and Jeff Pruitt. Â The only citizens to speak, or really even follow the entire process – and we’re all bloggers. Â I’d also mention that I know Mike Sylvester has followed this as well, but wasn’t able to make it last night. Â Above is the video clips of our talks. Â
Jeff Pruitt has pointed out that Bob Caylor picked up on our comments and mentioned it in his coverage for the News -Sentinel, even mentioning our blogs by name!
Three people spoke during a public hearing on the proposal. All are bloggers who follow City Council closely.
Steve Parker, who runsÂ www.aroundfortwayne.com, praised Brown and Goldner’s work, but he raised the question of whether the council would endorse the use of a tax abatement to help attract a casino.
John Kalb, who frequently contributes toÂ www.fortwaynepolitics.com, applauded the ordinance. Kalb has frequently criticized the city’s use of tax abatements in the past.
Jeff Pruitt, who runs theÂ www.fortwaynepolitics.comÂ blog, said it was a step in the right direction. However, he said he still opposes tax abatements. Instead of selectively rewarding business expansion or relocation, the city should lower taxes uniformly to stimulate investment, he said.
Thank you, Bob for the mention and acknowledgements that local bloggers do exist! Â I’d like to add that I felt my comments were more of a, shouldn’t you talk about this know rather than later? Â The text of my speech is as follows, although I did ad-lib a few comments:
Good evening! Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening.
I’d like to express my appreciation to Councilwomen Brown and Goldner for their hard work and initiative in putting together these revisions. I know they worked long and hard on this project – much to the betterment of our community and economic development therein.
One thing I would like to point out, is that perhaps this is the time to discuss whether or not a tax abatement should be awarded to a development such as a casino or other gambling establishment. Currently, there are no restrictions in either the state or local statutes that would prohibit such an abatement from being granted. But given the tenor of this council, I feel the issue would be one that would be greatly debated and that a decision would not be arrived at easily.
When the City of Anderson saw a horse track come to town some 14 years ago, the City provided them with infrastructure, but that was the extent of assistance provided. More recently, a casino came to their town and was not granted any tax abatements or incentives. The feeling was that casinos have the potential to generate such huge revenues and profits that taxpayer-funded incentives were not justified.
I am not sure if a provision is needed in the City’s statute, or if it did exist, how valid it would be at prohibiting something the State does not. Perhaps that needs to be discussed now so that future developers and City staff have a guideline to proceed by.
Even if a decision is not reached or nothing is added or changed in the ordinance regarding this issue, an indication tonight would serve as notice to potential developers and the community. If I were a gambling man, I’d probably bet the house that this issue will be coming to this Council at some point in the remainder of its term.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak about this issue and congratulations to both Councilwomen for their hard, worthwhile work on this issue!
My apologies to Elissa McGauley for not including her in my congratulations – I know that she put a lot of hard work she into this project as well!!!
John B. Kalb was next up, followed by Jeff Pruitt who questioned if a flat tax cut is a better economic development tool than abatements.