Fishers residents mull future as town or city
October 20, 2012 4:48PM
Updated: October 20, 2012 11:21PM
FISHERS (AP) — Residents of a growing Indianapolis suburb will decide next month whether to become a city and change their structure of government or keep their status as Indiana’s largest town.
Fishers, a community of 80,000 northeast of Indianapolis, is asking voters to choose from one of three options: continue as a town run by seven council members and a town manager, reorganize as a city in combination with Fall Creek Township and have a council that chooses a mayor and hires a city manager; or become a second-class city with nine council members and an elected mayor.
The proposal has divided many town residents. Signs supporting and opposing the move to become a city have popped up across town, and a lobbying group has filed a complaint with the state accusing the town of trying to steer residents toward the appointed mayor option.
The Indianapolis Business Journal reports City Yes, which says an elected mayor and council would provide more checks and balances, has complained that the town has mailed residents a letter that doesn’t discuss all the options and that the wording on the ballot questions is confusing.
“They have consistently provided a one-sided view in mailings and meetings with the full intent of staying in power,” said Joe Weingarten, a spokesman for City Yes. “People have the right to vote and not have these kinds of shenanigans going on.”
The Indiana Attorney General’s office has referred the complaint to the State Board of Accounts, a spokesman said.
Town Manager Scott Fadness said the town simply wants to make sure residents understand all their options.
“Fishers is engaging in an extensive public education campaign to equip residents with unbiased information concerning the upcoming referendum questions,” Fadness said.
Residents hoping to learn more about the issues attended a recent debate.
Fishers investment banker Wayne Crane argued a merger was the best option and would eliminate township positions and save residents money, WISH-TV reported.
“We may be the largest town in the country. At some point in time, we have to gravitate to some city form of governance and management,” Crane said.
Some officials estimate that a merger could save $1 million a year, but opponents say that would come at a price by reducing benefits, such as payments to the Social Security Fund for public servants.
Gregory A. Purvis, an attorney representing “City Yes,” said a city form of government with an elected mayor and council is the best way to go.
“Fishers has grown into a city. It’s time to act like a real city with a government that has neighborhood and community representation,” Purvis said.
Resident Jeff Johnson told The Indianapolis Star he is still weighing his options, but the debate over Fishers’ future has made one thing clear to him.
“I do feel that Fishers as a town is archaic,” he said