Zionsville Town Councilwoman Michelle Barrett was gracious enough to grant me an email interview about the upcoming vote on the reorganization of Zionsville, Eagle Township and Union Township. Here is what she had to say about the topic:
Q: Michelle, first of all thanks for opportunity to interview you about this reorganization of Zionsville. I realize it is a complicated issue, but could you briefly summarize what is proposed in this reorganization of Zionsville?
A: Eagle Township, Union Township and the Town of Zionsville will reorganize as 1 political entity. The boundaries of our School Corporation and our Town will be coterminous. This provides an excellent opportunity to control growth and taxes, eliminate duplicative services, keep Zionsville schools great and better plan for the future of our community.
Q: What changes will the average citizen see if this is passed?
A: The average citizen will not see many immediate changes when reorganization is passed. The plan allows a rural and town district to prevail where citizens will continue to receive police protection, fire protection and road maintenance from their current providers. In addition, zoning and subdivision control ordinances will remain the same. This allows residents in our community to continue to live the life they choose and preserves both village and rural lifestyles. The plan allows for an orderly, proactive and planned approach to expand services by being phased in over time.
Q:Taxes are always a big issue; will anyone’s taxes increase as result of this reorganization?
A: Taxes should not increase as a result of this reorganization. Given that a majority (over 90%) of our tax bill is made up from schools, police & fire protection and road maintenance and none of these components are going to change under reorganization, taxes should not increase as a result. In addition, the reorganization does not allow debt currently owned by one government entity to be transferred to the newly formed government entity-existing debt remains with the entity that incurred it.
Q: From what I am reading, there doesn’t seem to be much opposition to this reorganization. Are there any people/groups against this and are you fairly confident this measure will pass?
A: There seems to be a lot of support in favor and I am very confident it will pass. It is an awesome opportunity for us to unify as a community and take control of our future.
Q: Obviously schools are a very important concern to everyone especially when Zionsville has arguably one of the best school districts around. Are there any changes or concerns when it comes to schools?
A: The school corporation is in favor of the reorganization. It will allow us to make land-use decisions in our school corporation boundaries which gives us greater control of our growth, better communication and coordination with our school board and even better schools.
Q: How does this affect Whitestown now and in the future and is Whitestown interested in becoming part of Zionsville?
A: It will prevent any future unwanted annexation from Whitestown or any other neighboring community.
Q: Zionsville has a superb reputation in the greater Indianapolis area and beyond for a variety of reasons. Do you think by adding more rural districts to Zionsville this reputation may be somewhat diluted?
A: No, anyone living in the boundaries of our school corporation already consider themselves living in Zionsville. This reorganization will make it official from a governance standpoint. The reorganization plan provides the potential for new ways to manage residential and commercial growth, plan for the needs of our school system, control our tax base, and preserve the character of our community.
Q: You mentioned in your email to me that I had a few incorrect statements in my blog post. Would you care to clear them up and tell everyone how wrong I was?
A: You mentioned taxes would increase 5-7% and this not true. As stated above, taxes are not expected to increase as a result of this reorganization. The reorganization committee estimated that taxes could increase or decrease .05-.07 cents per $100 of assessed value for administrative reasons. In addition, property tax caps that are to be put in place over the next few years has made the tax issue a non-issue!
I would like to once again thank Councilwoman Barrett for taking the time to respond to these questions. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them in the comments section below.
If the first meeting about the reorganization of Zionsville, Eagle and Union Townships is any indication the unification of the three entities referendum may pass with very little opposition. About 35 gathered at the first of several meetings to discuss the possible unification and no one spoke out against the measure.
The meeting was led by Zionsville Town Council woman Michelle Barrett who urged the attendees to vote yes to the referendum on the November 4th ballot. She made clear that this is not an annexation, but a voluntary reorganization of the three governments. Taxes, laws, and ordinances will not change. The only immediate changes would be that the Union and Eagle Township trustees would become part of the Zionsville town council and planning and zoning would be controlled by Zionsville, not the county.
The Plan of Reorganization was passed, individually by the Eagle Township Board, the Union Township Board and the Zionsville Town Council. The Plan will be placed before the citizens on the November 4, 2008 ballot. You can view a complete copy of the reorganization plan on the Boone County Community Network site.
A road closure scheduled for Zionsville in May 2009 is already causing some residents, businesses, public officials to grumble about the affect on the community. INDOT will be replacing a bridge on IN 334 between Ford and Cooper Roads starting in May 2009 which will take approximately 5 months to complete. The problem that is causing angst among the community is that during those 5 months 334 could be closed for 120 days or more.
“There are going to be times when that road is completely inaccessible” says Wes Shaw an INDOT engineer. Motorists will be redirected to go south on Ford or Cooper roads and then cut over on Hunt Club to bypass the construction. The police and fire departments say complete closure raises concerns about public safety during the closure while business owners are concerned about lost traffic and revenue due to the construction.
The INDOT representative says all concerns will be taken into consideration and there will be another public meeting held at the beginning of the year. However, it seems that Zionsville motorists who travel 334 (an estimated 10,768 daily) will have to seek another route from May to October 2009.
For those that don’t know, Zionsville, Eagle and Union Townships are embarking on a bold move that would unify all 3 government entities into one consolidated and significantly larger Zionsville. The move, if passed, would geographically make Zionsville roughly 5 times larger than its current size. The population would increase from around 12,000 to almost 20,000 residents.
The measure to combine everything into Zionsville will be up for vote on the November 4th ballot. According the Indy Star “If the reorganization is approved, the new town would have rural and town districts, with different service and tax levels for each. Town residents would pay higher taxes, but receive police protection and street maintenance from Zionsville. Rural residents would see their property taxes rise 5-7 percent, but would pay less than town residents.”
There are several upcoming meetings to discuss the possible merger:
-7 p.m. Oct. 14, 9703 Hunt Club Road.
- 7 p.m. Oct. 16, 10245 Oak Ridge Drive.
- 7 p.m. Oct. 20, Stonegate Grand Hall, 6653 Westminster Drive.
- 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22, 7251 Hunt Club Lane in Irishman’s Run subdivision.