Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness talks Fishers budget, considers wheel tax


By Anna Skinner

This week, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness introduced the proposed 2017 city budget to members of the media, with focus on public safety and infrastructure.

Fadness said he hopes to add four firefighters, four police officers and two public works employees to the city’s staff.

“Police is about call volume and the ability to keep up with that,” Fadness said of the staffing increase. “Fire is about the staffing on the trucks that are in a more urban area. Right now we run three (firefighters) to a truck, and we want to supplement ladder trucks in the downtown area with one more person. Public works laborers are mainly on the streets division.”

In addition to the 10 added personnel, Fadness is proposing a three percent increase in salaries across the board for all city employees. The percentage in the budget does not increase the mayor’s or any other elected officials’ salaries.

The budget allows for 13 police-car replacements, as well as a $97,000 live-training facility for Fishers firefighters. There will be a new paramedic vehicle and an approximate $500,000 renovation to the public works building.

A new police headquarters is also scheduled be built, budgeted to cost between $12- and $14 million. The station is planned to be three stories and will include a three-story parking garage with 175 to 225 spaces. The first level of the parking garage will be for law enforcement vehicles only. City staff will be moved to the old police headquarters at 4 Municipal Dr. to add more flexibility to city hall spacing.

“(By moving city hall staff) into the old police station, it alleviates pressure on this building (city hall),” Fadness said. “By doing that move, this building will be adequate for years to come. We think this is a pretty cost-effective way to solve the police department issue and solve a growing need here at city hall. My hope, timeline-wise, is I would like to be (breaking ground) by the first of the year.”

Another focus in the proposed budget is road maintenance. Fadness proposed a $25 wheel tax for Fishers residents when they register their vehicles. If passed, the tax will elicit $2.5 million each year to be used for road maintenance. The city would collect the payments every month. The tax would not go into effect until 2018.

“We certainly didn’t come to this decision lightly, but this has been an ongoing concern,” Fadness said of road maintenance and the wheel tax. “We want to get to a point where we can come into a subdivision and (repave) curb to curb. Nobody wants to raise fees or taxes, but we also have to remain vigilant and keep up with infrastructure for the long term.”

Other roadwork budgeted for 2017 includes construction on 113th Street, resurfacing part of 116th Street and a roundabout at 96th Street and Lantern Road.

Overall, the budget is set to be $85.372 million, with the general fund at $51.843 million.

Budget proposals are scheduled to go before the city council Sept. 19.