FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — City councilors will see a large bump in pay and a new tax will force drivers to help pay for road improvements, as both measures were approved at Monday’s council meeting.
The council unanimously approved at 62 percent salary raise for 2017. Councilors in Fishers currently make $12,000 per year. The raise would take it to about $19,000. The new salary is now part of the 2017 budget proposal that will be up for a vote next month.
Before the raise, Fishers councilors were paid less than their counterparts in Westfield, Carmel or Noblesville. Noblesville councilors make the most at nearly $18,000. However, unlike many other cities councilors, Fishers council members don’t receive benefits.
“When you look at the entire package, a lot of them do have benefits. They’ve got health [insurance], which is very expensive to a community,” said council vice president David George. He added that the other cities also give their councilors something similar to a 401K.
Fishers city councilors haven’t gotten a raise since 2008. George adds that when you account for the inflation in Fishers’ growth over the past several years, a raise seemed fair.
Councilors also approved the so-called wheel tax. Vehicles registered in Fishers will be charged $25 starting in 2018. The money will help fund road projects such as repaving and widening. The roads include major thoroughfares and neighborhood streets.
This year, Mayor Scott Fadness told the council that the city spent nearly $2 million on road projects, however, the city had nearly $4 million worth of projects that needed funding.
He estimates the wheel tax will generate more than $2 million per year. Councilors said they typically don’t like the idea of raising taxes, but they felt funding road projects was necessary.
“The quality of life in Fishers is why people move here. And to maintain the quality that is expected by the existing residents and the ones that are moving here requires that we maintain our roads,” said Brad DeReamer, northeast district councilor.
“We have buses that can’t pass each other and they have to route certain ways because of how narrow the roads are in some areas. So I’m not usually in favor of any kind of tax increase, [but] this is what I consider vital to safety in our community,” said Todd Zimmerman, district at large councilor.
The wheel tax would go into effect in 2018. City leaders said 52 counties across the state already have a wheel tax.
Both measures were unanimously approved by the council, however, two of the nine councilors were not in attendance.