From a news conference held yesterday by Republican Mayoral candidate Paula Hughes.
The news release:
Hughes: Light Lease Must Reduce Debt
Only Mayoral Candidate Not Spending, Lending “Light Lease” Money
(March 16, 2011)- Former Allen County Council President and leading Republican Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Paula Hughes, unveiled her plan to cut city debt with the use of the I&M “Light Lease” settlement money, if the deal is approved by the State of Indiana.
“Everywhere I go, people are telling me that they are paying off debts today to create a better tomorrow for their family and they want the government to do the same,” Paula Hughes said in front of the city-county parking garage today. “I am the only candidate focused on using these funds to preserve our community and not allow our taxes to rise.”
According to the last comprehensive report issued by the City Controller’s office, Fort Wayne’s long-term debt is now a staggering $405 million. In fact, that number increased by $78.4 million in 2009 alone.
“We have a choice as a community,” Hughes said. “I want to pay down debt and not squander this opportunity to leave a lasting impact for Fort Wayne. My opponents either want to spend it or stuff it under the mattress. In the race for Mayor, that is the difference.”
The use of light lease dollars to pay down debt is part of the Hughes proposal, “Making YOUR Money Count; Cash-based Budgeting.” Hughes will implement Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball approach to paying down city debt so Fort Wayne taxpayers can see the benefits of clearing the books much like they do in their private lives.
Among the first debts Hughes will tackle is the City-County parking garage. In 2001, the City of Fort Wayne bonded $1.7 million over a 20-year period. This was the equivalent of a family making $40,000 a year taking out a 20-year loan for a $540 television.
Currently, the City still owes $1.2 million on the garage. Conversely, Allen County Council recently acted on a proposal to pay off its portion of the parking garage in full. This action saves Allen County taxpayers over $342,000.
“County Council saw the need to get debt off the books and save taxpayers in the long-run,” Hughes said. “They don’t get enough credit for doing the right thing. That is what fiscal conservatism is all about.”
“In late 2010, Paula Hughes proposed paying off the parking garage,” Council President Darren Vogt said. “After our analysis, it was a no-brainer. Getting this debt off the books and freeing up the future revenue for other uses is a real win for taxpayers. We need a mayor that has the taxpayers’ best interest at heart.”