The size of local government is going to increase as Noblesville’s days as a third-class city are numbered.
Noblesville Common Council members voted 5-2 to elevate the city’s status to second-class after the next municipal election.
City attorney Mike Howard said the title change is allowed under state statue if a city has more than 35,000 people on the most recent U.S. Census and its council passes an ordinance to do so. Noblesville has grown from 28,000 to 53,000 within the past 10 years and has been eligible for the change since 2010.
“We’ve had seven councilors since the ’70s,” Mayor John Ditslear said. “As we grow it is important we have more representation.”
Ditslear said the difference between the two classifications is a “broader representation” and an increase in the number of officials. Noblesville currently has five districts and two at-large members. A “second-city” has six districts and three at-large members for nine total members. It also has a clerk for record keeping and a controller (financial officer) who is appointed by the mayor.
“It will provide additional representation, especially as some of the precincts are becoming so large it’s hard for one council member to address everyone’s needs,” Councilor Mark Boice said.
Ditslear estimated the financial impact of the move as $100,000 to $120,000.
Councilors Rick Taylor and Stephen Wood opposed the status change.
“I have strong concerns about the cost to the city. Current cities in ‘second-class’ have economic situations that are not favorable. At some point that could happen here,” Wood said. “I didn’t think it was the right time to do it.”
Wood, who was in favor of more council members, is concerned about the cost of the move.
“From the financial side I don’t see how it is going to benefit the city. It takes more tax dollars than what it brings in,” he said.
Noblesville will become the second second-class city, behind Fishers as it intends to transition from a town in 2015. The Carmel City Council has voted down the status change each time Mayor Jim Brainard has presented it. Other third-class cities eligible for second-city status include Columbus, Greenwood, Jeffersonville and Portage.
Howard said the change would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2016. All common council positions, mayor and clerk-treasurer terms end in 2015.
“Second-class” cities have a population of at least 35,000 and up to 600,000 at time of designation, and have a nine-member city council and an elected clerk. Current “second-class” cities include Anderson, Bloomington, East Chicago, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Hammond, Kokomo, Lafayette, Lawrence, Marion, Michigan City, Mishawaka, Muncie, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Terre Haute. Indianapolis is the only “first-class” city in Indiana under state law.