Council presidents call for joint meeting on joint funding

City of Fort Wayne Seal Councilman Mitch Harper.  Courtesy photo. Allen County Board of Commissioners Seal

News release from Fort Wayne City Council President Mitch Harper (R-4th):

Council presidents call for joint meeting on joint funding
Vogt and Harper says shows continued cooperation

City Council President Mitch Harper and Allen County Council President Darren Vogt have agreed that the pending request for funds for purchasing software and adding personnel relating to the land-use permitting process is clearly an appropriate subject for a joint meeting of the Fort Wayne Common Council and the Allen County Council.

The two Presidents have agreed to schedule a joint meeting date of the two bodies to consider the funding request for $1.4 million to be split equally between the city government and the county government.

“This is an opportunity to demonstrate to the community that the two Councils can closely work together to consider improvements to government and to be appropriate stewards of taxpayer monies as we charged to do by state law as the fiscal bodies of local government,” Harper said.

“By working together on this proposed funding, the Councils can strive to craft appropriate benchmarks for progress,” Vogt added.

Harper and Vogt agreed that the Councils should tie funding to measurable objectives.

The two elected officials believe that as the land-use permit process recommendation grew out of months of joint meetings to address the issues; therefore the decision to fund the process should also be a joint effort, as well.

Harper also said that City Council should consider pending spending decisions in light of the City’s fiscal situation as a whole.

He noted that on Wednesday morning, the arbitrator’s decision was announced regarding the Fort Wayne Firefighters spousal health insurance coverage. The arbitrator ruled that the firefighter’s contract language was not followed by the administration when it dropped the coverage earlier.. The city administration, while not compelled to do so, also announced its intention to extend the spousal provision to all city employees.

The extension to provide health care to all city employee spouses who are offered coverage at their own place of employment may cause a potentially substantial increase to the 2011 personnel budget.

Harper asked Controller Pat Roller for a good faith estimate on the fiscal impact of this personnel cost. Controller Roller indicated they are working on it.

Harper said, “We should be sensitive to the cumulative effect the addition of these personnel expenditures added to other spending requests.”

Harper and Vogt believe that it is a prudent measure to hold a dual meeting to consider the land-use permitting process expenditures in order for the elected officials to scrutinize the fiscal impact for both the city and county budgets and come to a joint conclusion.

The proposed City Ordinance 11-05-09 will not be placed on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, but be held until the joint meeting is set.

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