Supreme Court rules ‘hybrid city’ legal

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The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a plan of reorganization proposed by the Town of Fishers, which would see it turn into a “hybrid city,” is legal.

That plan, approved in December 2010 by a joint vote of the Fishers Town Council and the Fall Creek Township Advisory Board, would, if approved by voters in a November referendum, reorganize Fishers into a city with a council elected entirely at-large, and a mayor appointed by that council.

Citing the 1971 Indiana Powers of Cities Act and 1980 Indiana Home Rule Act, Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard wrote in the majority opinion that, while plaintiffs’ contentions that the reorganization will deny constitutional voting rights are plausible, they are “best characterized as inference.”

“The General Assembly has given us a guiding principle for resolving such subtleties,” Shepard wrote. “It has declared we should liberally construe the Modernization Act to effect its purposes. The Act gives to all local government what it calls ‘full and complete authority’ to reorganize, exercise governmental functions under a cooperative agreement and transfer responsibilities between offices and officers.”

The decision will now go to Fishers voters to decide in a referendum in November’s general election. At press time, it was unclear what effect, if any, a late-2011 resolution by the former Fall Creek Advisory Board to remove itself from the plan of reorganization would have on the referendum.

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