Tomorrow, just 24 hours after Mayor Fadness revealed his plan to establish a new city health department, the City Council will hold an emergency meeting to take a final vote on his plan. I learned of this plan for the first time when the public did this morning. My objective is to postpone this vote until the Mayor can clearly justify the need for a new health department and provide details.
It is vital that everyone who has concerns about the plan or wants more information makes a public comment by filling out the form. Make sure to check the box for Special City Council Meeting 4/24. (The only parts of the Mayor’s plan the City Council will be addressing at the April 24 Special Meeting is the establishment of a city health department and allocating $2 Million for its operation. View the meeting agenda here.)
At this point, Mayor Fadness has not provided the City Council with the information necessary to make a responsible decision on behalf of their constituents. Here are some basic questions that the Mayor should answer before we create a whole new city department:
- Fishers residents already pay taxes to the County which go to funding the County Health Department. We need to make sure every public dollar is being spent as efficiently as possible because the City faces extreme revenue shortfalls in the near future. Is creating a new department that overlaps with an existing body really the most efficient use of funds?
- How would establishing a city health department disrupt the County’s current efforts to address the pandemic and other local health issues? Are we certain the City would not be making the health response in Fishers worse by taking on new responsibilities it doesn’t already have expertise in?
- Can any of the Mayor’s health initiatives be achieved in cooperation with the County Health Department?
- Did the Mayor discuss any of his initiatives with the County Health Department or otherwise attempt to cooperate with the County before making the decision to establish a new city department?
- In what specific ways is the County Health Department deficient or failing that would necessitate the City taking on the fiscal burden of its own health department? Did the Mayor attempt to address any perceived inadequacies?
- How will establishing a health department affect the longterm financial future of the City? This isn’t just a one-time $2 million – the City will have to continue to fund this department longterm.
The Mayor will say it’s imprudent to postpone the vote since we’re in an “emergency.” Yes, we are in an emergency. That’s why these proposed actions should have been vetted by the community and the Fishers City Council weeks ago. Let’s be clear: this an emergency *right now* only because the Mayor decided it is so. If he had provided the City Council and the public an actual justification for his proposal well in advance of a vote, I wouldn’t need to be asking for more information now.
This is an unacceptable way to go about making big changes in our City Government. If you’re concerned like I am, please make a public comment at tomorrow’s meeting and help me hold the Mayor accountable. Let’s quickly make all the pertinent information available to anyone who wants to see it and move forward – not with haste, but with deliberate action that will make our community healthier and stronger for years to come.