Fishers voters to decide Tuesday on becoming city or merging with Fall Creek Township

Opponents call merger supporters 'power grabbers'

FISHERS - The battle over changing the town government of Fishers has taken a turn.

Two state legislators have asked to have their names removed from literature supporting the merger of Fishers and Fall Creek Township.

Senators Beverly Gard and Jim Merritt asked that their names be removed from pro-merger literature because the names were added without their permission.

Meanwhile, the two sides have been fighting over whether a merger would be a good thing.

Voters in Fishers and Fall Creek Township will face a complicated pair of issues next week.

Issue One would merge Fishers and the township into one hybrid city, with a council that would elect one of its own members as the mayor and appoint a city manager.

The township would cease to exist.

Issue Two would keep Fishers' current boundaries and convert it into a second-class city with an elected mayor.

If Issue One passes, it would nullify Issue Two, no matter how residents vote.

Supporters said a merger would save money by eliminating a layer of government, as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been trying to do for several years.

John Weingardt, R-Fishers Town Council, said, "By combining Fall Creek and Fishers into one governmental entity, we will save. There's a study that's been done by a CPA firm that says we'll save, just by combining those entities, $200,000."

Supporters also said there's a chance a merged government could escape making Social Security payments for safety forces, saving $800,000 a year, although opponents said there's little chance of that.

Opponents said they think the cost savings are overstated.

"It's also being sold as a cost-savings, which we don't believe will happen," said Doug Allman, the head of City Yes, which opposes the merger. "It's negligible at best, eliminating the township government, because we have a very lean township government."

Allman also said the merger is a power grab by current council members who want to hold onto their jobs and avoid having a powerful mayor.

"Very simply, it is a power grab," Allman said. "It's by the Town Council to stay incumbent."

Supporters said they're just trying to keep a system that works.

"It's been effective. It's been efficient," said Wayne Crane of Citizens to Reorganize Fishers. "We have the second-lowest tax rate in the state, and we have that for a reason. We're just managed well."

Merger opponents said supporters are misleading voters and cite the unauthorized inclusion of Gard and Merritt endorsements as an example.

Supporters said they have now removed those endorsements from their mailings and website. 

 

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