The October Fishers City Council Meeting will be held on Monday, October 19 at 7pm. Here’s a summary for your information and I warmly encourage you to participate.
- A video of the meeting will be broadcast live starting at 7pm on Monday so you can watch from home.
- Fishers residents are welcomed to submit public comments electronically prior to the meeting. All comments received before the meeting will be presented at the meeting and will be part of the meeting’s Community Comment. The Public Comment Form is live on the website right now. Please submit your comments as soon as possible, before noon on Monday is ideal.
- “Community Comment” at the end of each City Council meeting is always open for your comment on any Fishers topic. This is an “open mic” opportunity for any Fishers resident to address the City Council for three minutes.
- Meeting agendas and past meeting minutes can be found here, under City Council tab.
- Past meeting videos are supposed to be posted within 48 hours of the meeting. Sometimes, you can find the videos here, in the Agenda Center, the TV icon under the “Media” column. Sometimes, City Council meeting videos are to be posted here.
The October City Council Meeting agenda is available here. As always, the agenda has items that appear in blue that are links to open the supporting documents. Here’s my rundown of the meeting agenda items and my interpretation of them.
5. Finance Committee Report.
This committee met last on October 14. Usually, the Finance Committee meets and discusses the Budget/Financial items before these items appear on the City Council agenda. The most recent Finance Committee meeting minutes are available to review.
- Consent Agenda.
There are three item on the Consent Agenda.
a. Last month’s City Council Meeting Minutes and Public Comments. The public comments were submitted electronically last month from residents and are included in the official meeting record.
b. Transfer of Funds. This action transfers funds within the city budget, which is needed periodically. The transfers do not adjust the bottom line at all. This is a transfer of dollars from one budget category to another to avoid a negative balance in a category.
c. 2021 Non-Profit Grants. This action approved the Non-Profit Committee’s recommendation of the grant awards.
The Consent Agenda is a grouping of routine reports that should be approved in one swift action, instead of approving each one separately. I believe that all items included on the Consent Agenda should be approved as presented and approved unanimously. If not, the item that requires a revision, abstention, or other action needs to be removed from the Consent Agenda and considered as a separate voting item.
- Economic Development Agreement with INCOG Biopharma Services. This new start-up company was founded by two former executives of Cook Group and will provide manufacturing to biopharma companies. INCOG will invest $60 million to open a large headquarters to open in 2022 at Exit 5 Parkway and Cumberland Road in Fishers. INCOG plans to hire 150 high-income, full time employees by 2024. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is providing $2.5 million of tax credits to INCOG, when they fulfill their hiring commitment. Fishers is proposing a 100% 13-year tax abatement on personal property (equipment) and a 100% 1-year tax abatement on real property (the building/land). This means the company doesn’t pay these taxes at all during these years. Tax abatements are common tools used by local government to attract investment and job creation.
For me, I receive extra confidence with Indiana Economic Development Corp’s participation in the deal since they also vet start-up companies carefully. I am generally much more comfortable with tax abatement on equipment than buildings or land. I worry about the city missing out on tax revenue (which also impacts revenue collected by HSE Schools) but this company could very well attract new residents to Fishers who would pay property tax. Lastly, there is always a clause in the agreement that allows the city to halt the abatement agreement if the company reneges on their hiring promise.
For more info on INCOG Biopharma, check out this recent Hamilton County Reporter article in the blue box on page 1.
- Economic Development Agreement with Maple Del Development. This is a proposed new residential development off of 116thStreet, between Chatham Tap and Charleston Crossing subdivision. The developer, Hageman Group, has already purchased the neighborhood of 17 homes in order to demolish the homes and acquire the land to develop. Their proposal, in partnership with developer JC Hart, would create 197 residential units here – 164 garden-style units, 18 three-story townhomes, and 8 two-story patio homes.
The developers are asking the city to help them finance the $30 million project. They are requesting that a bond (a loan) be issued that is backed by the developer and paid off through TIF revenues. In this agreement, the City would allow the developer to not pay the City for the additional property taxes that would be incurred when the property is developed and increases in value. Instead, that additional tax revenue would be used to pay off the bond. The City can only use these incremental tax revenues, not current City funds, to pay off this bond. TIF proceeds for this project have been capped at $6.1 million.
I have attended a recent gathering of neighbors who live close to Maple Del and a presentation by JC Hart and Hageman Group. It was a good conversation and neighbors stated their concerns about traffic, noise, buffering and other important details. I have high confidence that the city and these development partners will do their utmost to address neighbors’ concerns satisfactorily. This city council meeting’s agenda item is first about the city partnership with the developers specifically. Next, if the project moves ahead, neighbors will be a part of finalizing these details through the Nickel Plate District Review Committee.
I generally support multi-family (rental housing) in the downtown Nickel Plate District to keep downtown businesses busy and the district bustling with activity and commerce. However, traffic, safety, general infrastructure and thoughtfulness to current downtown households are my top concerns.
9. 2nd Reading of Animal Ordinance.The City of Fishers is working with the Humane Society for Hamilton County to align our city’s animal control legislation with the rest of the county and update penalties for animal cruelty. The proposed ordinance changes that have been made since September’s meeting can be reviewed here. For example, the proposed new language specifically defines the temperatures that would require provisions for animals that are outdoors and strengthens language against puppy mills. I support these updates as long as they have the full support of the local Humane Society and Fishers Police Department, who would enforce the ordinance. This Indianapolis Star article by John Tuohy has additional information about the ordinance. The Humane Society for Hamilton County is currently constructing their new headquarters and shelter facility in Fishers near 106th St and Hague Rd.
10. 1st Reading of the 2021 Salary Ordinance. Proposes a 3% raise for all city employees and elected officials. I whole-heartedly support this raise for each city employee.
11. Final Reading of the 2021 Budget. The budget requires final vote to approve by City Council at the October 19 meeting. A good summary to review the proposed budget can be found at the city’s 2021 Budget webpage, www.fishers.in.us/budget. Under Helpful Materials, click on 2021 Budget Presentation. This will download the powerpoint presentation about the budget that Mayor Fadness presented last month. There’s also additional info on this webpage about the 2021 budget.
I support the addition to the 2021 Budget that commits to constructing a new fire station for growing population on the east side of the city. The need for this additional fire station has been proven for years and I am glad to see that it is a priority.
But, I also have concerns about the municipality being prepared for COVID-related revenue shortfalls that are predicted in 2022 and beyond. I’d like to see a true “rainy day fund” established that squirrels away cash for future unanticipated expenses and revenue declines. This seems wise especially since the city is estimated to collect additional revenue in 2021 that was not anticipated. I’d also like to see a full scrutiny of the expenses for nice-to-haves.
Just like the 2020 budget presentation last year, I am disappointed how this budget was presented to the public at the September City Council meeting. Simply put, the presentation must be clear for a taxpayer to understand. For example, I disagree that the 2021 city budget can be described as “tax neutral” when the city is making the decision to increase the property tax rate. And, I will ask again why the one-year tax increase for road repairs that was collected in 2020 won’t roll off for 2021.
12. Refinance Bonds, Series 2011 Geist Road Projects. A re-funding is new borrowing that pays off an old borrowing, to achieve debt savings, restructure debt service, or free up existing funds. It is similar to refinancing a mortgage to obtain a better interest rate or to restructure payment amounts and dates for budget flexibility. The principal amount of this new bond will not exceed $2.9 million. The estimated savings is not tremendous but any savings is valuable.
(Re-funding is different than a refund! A refund is when you get your money back when you return something that you are not satisfied with. This is not what we are talking about here.)
13. Refinance Bonds and Issuance General Obligation Bonds 2011, Series A for Road Repairs. This action refunds a bond and issues a brand new bond 2020C for road repairs.
- Unfinished/New Business.
- Community Comment. The first 10 people to sign up before the meeting begins have the opportunity to speak for three minutes each on any city matter. “Community Comment” at the end of each City Council meeting is always open for your comment on any Fishers topic. This is an “open mic” opportunity for any Fishers resident to address the City Council. In addition, Fishers residents are welcomed to submit public comments electronically prior to the meeting. All comments received before the meeting will be presented at the meeting and will be part of the meeting’s Community Comment. The Public Comment Form is live on the website right now. Please submit your comments as soon as possible, before noon on Monday October 19 is ideal.
- Meeting adjourned!
If you have any comments or questions, please send them my way. Email is a good way to get a hold of me. If you would like to leave a voicemail, please ring me at 888-518-7117.