Fishers mayor defends city’s decision to pay Messer $20K a month

FILE - (WISH Photo)

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — The mayor of Fishers played defense Friday — this after an Associated Press story highlighting how much money the city pays a contracted employee. That attorney is Rep. Luke Messer’s wife, Jennifer Messer.

In a phone call with 24-Hour News 8, Mayor Scott Fadness implied that Mrs. Messer is underpaid. Fadness says Messer receives $20,000 a month, which averages out to around $180-$190 per hour. He says that’s significantly less in comparison to large law firm rates. Fadness says he has no plans to remove Messer from payroll.

It’s no secret the city of Fishers is a fast-growing community. New construction isn’t hard to spot. Mayor Fadness credits Messer — an attorney contracted through Fishers — who primarily drafts and negotiates economic deals for the city. According to Fadness, Messer has negotiated 35 deals in the past three years.

“She is working on all the large projects that you have covered before here in the city of Fishers. Whether it’s the yard, whether it’s IKEA, whether it’s Topgolf, whether it’s family, any of those,” said Mayor Fadness.

But earlier in the week, her worth came into question when the Associated Press published a story on Messer, claiming Fishers has paid Messer $580,000 since 2015. The report claims Messer earns about $100,000 more than city attorney, and that some months she only put in part-time hours. Messer, who lives in DC, has not been to a city meeting since 2015, the report claims.

“Well, I don’t know how she knows what we want then,” said Beverley McDaris, who lives in Fishers.

Messer is also the wife of Rep. Luke Messer, whose campaign promise was to cut reckless spending. People in Fishers now have questions.

McDaris said, “It makes it sound kind of suspicious that if she’s the wife of a representative, what’s the influence there?”

“It’s not terrible that she has that salary. But, it doesn’t really coincide with the mindset of ‘Let’s cut irresponsible spending.’ So there’s conversation and discussion that probably needs to be had,” said Deven Bridges, who works in Fishers.

Mayor Fadness says Messer has worked for the city since 2010, before her husband was elected to Congress. He defends his decision to keep her on the payroll.

“She’s an extraordinarily talented attorney with a depth and breath of experience in the city of Fishers,” said Fadness.

According to the report, Messer also earned more than Governor Eric Holcomb’s top attorneys, as well as Indy’s top attorney.

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