I was unable to attend the Fishers City Council meeting on August 17th, 2020 in person, but I did watch it via the livestream. The stream started a few minutes after 7:00pm and lasted the entire meeting, which was barely over a half hour. While a number of things were covered, I thought I’d comment on just a few of them, as well as comment on an item or two that weren’t covered.
The meeting started with a proclamation from the Mayor for the city:
The proclamation is focused on supporting Fishers small businesses. The city has been pushing a marketing campaign for the month of August that includes a promotion of many of the local businesses offering deals on Wednesdays throughout the month.
Fishers Health Department
The Fishers Health Department was related to two items on the agenda. The first was a notification that with the city budget coming in about 30 days, there is an expectation that the FHD should see a “significant” reimbursement from the Federal CARES act.
Additionally, there was an agenda item previously related to city positions that included new health department roles including one on education. This was not addressed in tonight’s meeting as the FHD is reviewing the positions. This should come back at next month’s meeting.
What was disappointing (in my opinion as a member of the public listening to this meeting) is that two items related to the health department that are causing buzz in the community were not addressed, nor was any information on the current status of Fishers as it relates to the Covid-19 numbers. It seems like the numbers would have been referenced along with the status of where the city currently stands (i.e. in the yellow headed to orange) and what near term expectations are.
The first of the two comments I would have liked to have heard more clarification stated on was the mayor’s prior comment that the schools – could- open. This was said when the FHD was indicating that Fishers was in a yellow status headed to orange. This caused a bit of cognitive dissidence for many residents trying to understand. By stating that it isn’t the Mayor’s decision to open schools, it seemed the comments put the school board and superintendent at odds with the city due to the decision to start virtual.
The second item that wasn’t addressed has caused consternation in the community as well. This is the FHD resignation and her public statements. It seems odd that something that made mainstream press was not addressed by the City Council.
One of the mundane, but important items covered in city council and school board meetings seems to be the refinancing of bonds. This is an important topic, because it drops funds back into the city coffers to be used. In the case of the city, with the bonds that were approved at tonight’s meeting along with a few previously refinanced, the city has dropped roughly $4.8 million back into their pool of money to spend.
If you look at the agenda that was live at the time of the meeting, you’ll find that there were a couple of agenda items for bond refinancing. It should be noted that one – referred to as Item 11 on the agenda, was not actually on the live agenda:
Ultimately, this was no big deal; however, it should be noted that the missing item was said to be a first read. Rules were suspended and the item was passed.
Upcoming City Budget
Jocelyn Vare asked about the upcoming city budget and the public meeting that are required to go with it. The 2021 budget will be interesting to see in order for the public to know things such as if the FHD will cost us more than the $500,000 we had been paying for health services from the county. It should also include more insight into things such as the Nickel Plate Trail costs.
It was stated that the budget would be coming in September. A schedule will be posted in the future on the budget plan showing the timeline for things as well as showing public feedback times.
Mayor Fadness commented that this year’s budget process is going to be a little different due to the unknown state revenue numbers. The hopes are that revenue will not be greatly impacted, but it is currently an unknown. The state hasn’t released income tax data.
The Mayor commented that the finance committee meetings are public. there was an indication that they will be talking about spending in the next meeting. He also indicated that they are working on two budgets. One budget will be what they believe revenues will be. The other will be created to handle a worst case scenario of tax funds from the state.
The budget target is for September 30th and there is a scheduled public meeting September 21st. The Mayor will also have a meeting with media to get the information to the public. There will also be information posted on the web site. Because they won’t have actual revenue numbers until after September, they are planning accordingly, and know there might need to be additional budget meetings after September 30th if numbers come in as unexpectedly. The critical date is November 1st, which is when the budget needs to be completed. Mayor Fadness indicated that they will be able to work in October to cut things if numbers come in low. Mayor Fadness doesn’t think they will have to do that, but there could be last minute adjustments.
There was an additional question about funds being redirected from Carmel to Fishers. It was asked these funds would help offset some of hte decrease in revenue that might occur. It was stated that only if revenue grew at 2.5% or greater, would we get the money from Carmel, and the amount of growth is going to be less than that, so we likely won’t see funds from this.
There was really only one live public comment, which isn’t surprising considering there is a pandemic happening. Written public comments has been provided to the city council and entered into the public record. Unlike school board meetings, written comments are not read so that the public can be aware of them via the live stream.
The meeting was short at about 30 minutes. This post is based on my notes and could be off a bit. Feel free to watch the recording once it is posted.
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