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Association Board Supports City Council Increasing Local Income Tax to Rebuild Sidewalks, Maintain Alleys, and Develop Riverfront

June 22, 2017

The Historic Southwood Park Board of Directors supports a 0.15% increase in the Local Income Tax rate to support rebuilding sidewalks, alleyways, and the riverfront.  In neighborhood surveys, sidewalk repair is a foremost concern. On-street parking and the poor condition of alleys are other items of deep interest.  Southwood Park neighbors identify our proximity to downtown as an asset.  The rate increase addresses these points, so we encourage City Council to adopt the rate increase.

Why is this important?  Well-maintained sidewalks and alleys improve property values.  With constitutional property tax caps and a tight municipal budget, the Association Board of Directors feels this dedicated rate increase is the best way to ensure future City investments in neighborhoods.

At our May Association meeting, we discussed the tax proposal by members of City Council.  We voted that we would support the increase in the Local Income Tax as long as council set aside at least 30% of the money for neighborhood infrastructure.  At Wednesday’s Southwest Neighborhoods-Summit Alliance meeting, Councilman Dr. John Crawford outlined his plan to introduce a concurrent ordinance that will direct 1/3 of the tax increase to neighborhood infrastructure.  This meets our Board’s goal and is expected to raise $40 million dollars over the next decade for sidewalks and alleys.

Several Southwood Park neighbors who have asked to participate in the City’s 50/50 sidewalk cost sharing have been deferred until future years.  Demand far outstrips money in the City’s budget.  And the City has never really had a budget for alley replacement.  Many alleys are a century old and in poor condition.  If a block of homeowners does manage to pass a successful petition for repairs, the City only contributes 25%, if it is available at all, leaving bills of thousands of dollars.  If the ordinances pass, Councilman Crawford expects the City to pay for future sidewalk and alley work in full.

Historic Southwood Park is only a short bike ride from downtown.  We benefit from a rising demand for housing near downtown, and portions of the rate increase will be spent on Phases II and III of Riverfront redevelopment.

The plan for earmarking 1/3 for sidewalks and alleys, and 2/3 for riverfront is a good path forward.  A typical taxpayer can expect to pay $5.77 per month.  The Local Income Tax does not affect those on limited incomes, as Social Security is tax exempt.  If approved, the tax rate of 1.5% will still be below the state average of 1.59%. And money from the rate increase will NOT be spent on a downtown arena.

It is never easy to propose raising tax rates.  The elected proponents of this plan deserve credit for taking on a tough subject.

City Council will conduct hearings on the subject at 5PM on June 27 and July 11 at Citizens Square.  You can read some more on the subject from the perspective of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. at

Steve McCord

President, Historic Southwood Park Board of Directors

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