On Aug. 31, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness conducted a press conference on the city’s proposed budget for 2022. It is a budget that Fadness believes “demonstrates that the city is in a very strong financial position.”
The proposed budget includes $68 million in expenditures and $68.2 million in revenue. The city is proposing a 4 percent pay raise for employees and elected officials. New positions include three police officers, eight firefighters, two teachers in residence and the promotion of two part-time inspectors to full time.
“One of our focuses is, how do you derive the highest value for your residents and your businesses to be able to invest in our community while not raising taxes is a win-win for our community,” Fadness said.
Assessed value up, taxes down
Homes in Fishers are expected to see a 6.4 percent increase in assessed value. The city also projects property tax collection growth surpassing $27 million in 2022, a 4 percent increase from 2021 and a 19 percent increase over the last five years.
Meanwhile, Fishers residents are expected to pay slightly less in municipal taxes in 2022 compared to 2021, with a 0.69 percent decrease from 72.15 cents to 71.65 cents per $100 of assessed value. Among the eight other municipalities in Hamilton County, Fishers is projected to have the second-lowest tax rate, with only Cicero’s rate lower.
Fishers expects to have $25.5 million in cash reserves for 2022.
Built into the budget is $7 million for infrastructure projects. Of that total, $5.1 million is budgeted toward construction: $3 million for road resurfacing, $1.3 million for Cumberland Road rehabilitation, $800,000 for the Geist Greenway construction and $150,000 for curb ramp upgrades. Nearly $2 million more is designated for design and right-of-way acquisitions on various streets across the city.
The next step for the Fishers 2022 budget is a first reading before the city council on Sept. 20, when a public hearing will be held. If it passes the first reading, it can be approved at the Oct. 18 city council meeting.
For more, visit fishers.in.us/budget.
LIT Tax revenue much less than expected
In August, Fishers officials — along with other municipalities in Hamilton County — received a shock on Aug. 17 when the Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance released its first 2022 Local Income Tax estimates and Hamilton County’s estimates came in low, a 3.6 percent decrease from 2021. Fishers officials were estimating that the LIT revenue would be a 4.1 percent increase.
Mayor Scott Fadness and other Fishers officials were puzzled why Hamilton County came in 187.8 percent lower than anticipated. In dollar figures, the county will receive $5 million less than in 2021.
“Our forecast (4.1 percent increase) was us being conservative. We weren’t blue skying it,” Fadness said. “Everyone in Hamilton County is having to deal with it.”
City officials did include the LIT shortfall in their 2022 budget, but they have reached out to State Rep. Todd Huston, the speaker of the Indiana House or Representatives, who represents Fishers, for more information about whether the number was miscalculated.
“None of us are claiming that those numbers are wrong, but intuitively, one would look at this and say that it is worth investigating,” Fadness said. “What is the rationale for these numbers coming in as low as it is? If they come back with a plausible rationale for why (the number) is what it is, then so be it, but I think it is incumbent upon (the city) to ask those questions.”
For 2021, the LIT was accumulated over a 14-month stretch, and Hamilton Co. received a 10.8 increase from the previous year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 total is based on a 10-month sample. Fishers officials were expecting a smaller number than 2021, but not what they are estimated to receive.
Still, they are confident the numbers might be reevaluated.
“We were planning for the worst, but if (reevulation) comes back as something more beneficial, then we’ll have an influx of cash that we’ll be able to use,” Fadness said.