Fishers council OKs 2024 budget in first reading


The Fishers City Council on Sept. 18 took a step toward approving the City of Fishers 2024 budget, which totals about $164 million and includes a half-cent property tax decrease.

City of Fishers Deputy Mayor Elliott Hultgren gave a short presentation about the budget, which Mayor Scott Fadness submitted in late August. Highlights include:

  • A reduction in the property tax rate from .712 cents to .707 cents for every $100 assessed value
  • A 5 percent salary increase for city employees
  • Increased longevity pay for first responders
  • $3 million for fleet replacement costs
  • New hires in the police, fire, health and parks departments
  • Roundabouts at 126th and Southeastern and 96th and Allisonville Road
  • Road widening at Cumberland Road and 136th Street
  • Various street and sidewalk projects
  • Trail construction and improvements
  • An increased neighborhood vibrancy grants program
  • A new micro-grant program for Hamilton Southeastern Schools teachers

Some of those projects will be paid for through city reserves, which currently are at more than $51 million. The $12 million in reserve spending would bring that down to just shy of $40 million. Hultgren noted that the required reserves is $15 million.

He noted that the council’s Finance Committee had met three times to talk in depth about the budget, and the document before the council Sept. 18 was unchanged from the mayor’s original proposal.

Three people spoke during the public hearing. Among them was Marty Wood, who said that overall, he thinks the city is headed in the right direction. He had a few concerns. Wood wondered why the city has such a large cash reserve balance, and he questioned the proposed grants for teachers. Wood said the city doesn’t have responsibility for schools, and the grants are not appropriate.

During council discussion of the proposed budget, reserves were a primary topic. Councilmember Jocelyn Vare, a Democrat serving in an at-large seat, said she would like information from the mayor about why they’re not spending reserves down faster.

Fadness explained that the city’s reserves buildup is partially the result of multiple years of funds received from legislation transferring Carmel taxes to Fishers.

“We wanted to make sure if we were going to spend that money, it be on one-time items,” he said. “We couldn’t predict whether we were going to receive it and didn’t want to tie ongoing expenses to it.”

Councilmember Brad DeReamer, a Republican representing the North East District, said cities need reserves, especially when the economy is uncertain. He said he was the mayor of Greenfield during a recession, and reserves saved the community.

“I understand your concerns, but I’ve been through it as a mayor,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done if we didn’t have those reserves.”

Vare said she doesn’t want the city to spend all its reserves, but she would like to know the mayor’s reserves strategy for the next Finance Committee meeting.

Council President John Weingardt, a Republican representing the South Central District, thanked everyone for their comments and invited the public to continue asking questions of their council representatives.

Information about the proposed budget is available on the city’s website at

The budget is set for a second reading and adoption at the next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at the LaunchFishers theater, 12175 Visionary Way.