Fort Wayne City Council members agree it's crucial for the city to move forward with upgrades to the local 911 radio system. They're just not sure how to pay for it.
Council voted Tuesday to approve Fort Wayne's contribution of more than $9 million toward the city-county 911 system overhaul, but questions have yet to be answered on where the funding will come from.
"Binding ourselves to an obligation before we know the source of the funding would not be a strong fiscal position," said Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th. Harper suggested holding the contract until Mayor Tom Henry provides funding details, but council rejected the delay.
Allen County officials appear likely to pay for the county's roughly $7 million share with cash from its "rainy day" fund and a recent $4.5 million "windfall" of unexpected income tax revenue.
But city officials are exploring other options, such as borrowing the money through tax-supported bonds or setting up a long-term payment plan with radio maker Motorola. Existing 911 telephone fees are expected to provide about $2.5 million of the funding.
Councilman Marty Bender, R-at large, said the city faces a looming deadline that requires a contract to be in place by the end of June, putting more pressure on council to approve the deal.
"Some of us didn't have as much time to study this issue...as we would have liked," said Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th. "I don't like the precedent...but I would like to move this forward tonight."
Harper and Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, abstained from the vote. Councilmen Bender; John Crawford, R-at large; Tom Didier, R-3rd; Paddock; John Shoaff, D-at large; and Tom Smith, R-1st, voted in favor of the deal.
City and council officials also must still find a location for the new 911 call center, which will outgrow the current space in the Ed Rousseau Centre.
Annexation, tax incentives granted for Auburn dentist
Also Tuesday, council approved a controversial annexation request and tax incentives for an Auburn dentist who wants to start a new practice on Fort Wayne's north end.
David Painter, a specialist in sedation dentistry, first asked council last month to annex a swath of land at Coldwater and Union Chapel roads into the city after Allen County officials denied his request for tax incentives.
The request sparked a debate on which businesses should qualify for tax incentives and whether Painter was unfairly taking advantage of the city's tax abatement and annexation policies.
With the tax incentives approved Tuesday, Painter will save more than $350,000 in real and personal property taxes over 10 years, according to figures provided by the city.