News release from the Paula Hughes campaign:
Hughes backs merit-shop pay
Protects Taxpayers from Government Excesses
(March 23, 2011) – Former Allen County Council President and leading Republican candidate for Mayor of Fort Wayne Paula Hughes continued to stand on the side of the taxpayer by pledging to back merit-shop pay for City of Fort Wayne public works projects. According to various studies, this pledge could save Fort Wayne taxpayers anywhere from 10-20% per project. The use of merit-shop pay increases competition and competitive bids for taxpayer-funded projects.
“In my administration, I will fight for the taxpayers,” Paula Hughes said. “There is no excuse for keeping project costs high when using tax dollars. My administration will do more with less.”
Allen County and Fort Wayne Community Schools use merit-shop pay almost exclusively on their taxpayer-funded building projects. Conversely, the Henry administration has only opted for merit-shop pay once during his term as Mayor, adding millions to city construction projects.
Using the conservative cost-saving estimate, the City could have saved at least $657,600 on the Renaissance Square project, alone. Those dollars could have been used to pay down the city’s growing debt, to prevent tax increases and give businesses the ability to create more jobs.
“Everywhere I go, Fort Wayne citizens tell me government needs to put its focus on protecting taxpayers and cutting spending in a responsible way,” Hughes stated. “Taxpayers must come first and they will when I am Mayor of Fort Wayne.”
This merit-shop pay pledge is an extension of Hughes’s cash-based budgeting plan which requires all division directors and department heads to submit a prioritized budget that focuses on necessities. Each department will start at zero and build their budget from the ground up. This type of budgeting will empower each department to focus on doing more with less and to critically evaluate the need for each individual program and line-item.
This plan stems from the troubling facts presented by City officials in the City’s 2009 Certified Annual Financial Report. The report clearly states that Fort Wayne’s long-term debt is $405 million. Additionally, it points out that the city’s debt increased by $78.4 million over the course of 2009. The Hughes plan would not allow for a debt increase. It will focus on making the current tax dollars count and getting to a point to start paying down the massive debt accumulated by the past administrations.
“We need to get our budget in check and become fiscally responsible to the taxpayers again,” Hughes stated. “This excessive debt load will burden our community for decades if we don’t address it now.”