Hello VRA members,
Spring is finally in the air! And doesn’t it feel like the longest winter ever? It’s great to see Village residents finally able to walk and greet each other from afar. While you’re walking around try and stop by some of our downtown shops. At our March VRA meeting we talked about ways to help local businesses. If you couldn’t attend, there’s a brief story in this month’s Village Voice. Spring also means time to clean yards and homes. Brush and limb pickup will be provided by the town the week of April 12. For any large items that need disposal, heavy trash pickup will take place for Village residents on Wednesday, May 5. More information about both of these can be found on the town’s website. We’re fortunate to have so many homes with amazing history in our midst. Village resident Michael Sandy wrote about his Pine Street home and has provided an excerpt. His book is available at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center. That’s also where you can discover many other titles about local history which will be featured in future issues. Next month look for a tour of local fairy gardens – if you have a fairy garden in front of your house that you’d like to be added to the list, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. And of course, pass along any story ideas for future issues!
I’ve always tried to keep these Council updates decidedly non-political. This is my 40th update in the VRA newsletter and I know this because I’m a digital pack-rat that still has them all. The goal has always been to better educate you on your local government, the various functions and departments, and what is going on within Town Council.
The biggest story going on right now, and in quite some time, is the disagreement and now legal action between the Mayor and the Council over the proposed demotion of Fire Chief VanGorder. I’m hoping by the time you read this that the lawsuit has been settled and we’re back to doing more productive things for our Town. I don’t intend to use this medium as an outlet pleading our case and why we feel we’re in the right. I did however think it would be appropriate to understand the background as to why we have this unique structure.
Most of you know that Zionsville was reorganized in 2014 after we merged with Perry Township. That reorganization was approved by voters and changed how our government was setup including allowing us to have the role of Mayor while remaining a Town. We are one of only two Towns in Indiana that have a Mayoral role, every other government is a City. This reorganization was challenged by Whitestown, who also had eyes on Perry Township, but it was ultimately ruled constitutional by the Indiana Supreme Court. There are a few unique elements of the reorganization including the separation of powers when it comes to department heads. The Mayor cannot demote a department head without the majority approval of the Town Council. Why is that?
I asked a few folks that helped write the reorganization and the simple answer was to take politics out of our department heads and allow them to operate in a manner that is best for the Town. This tension existed long before we had a Mayor. Department heads often felt trapped when given conflicting orders from different Town Councilors. Various Town Council factions in the past would put department heads in uncomfortable situations when pursuing their priorities. While it didn’t happen with all Councilors, it happened enough that the authors of the reorganization wanted to eliminate that tension. In having a Mayor and Council agree on a department head removal, it took the pressure off the department heads and ensured that change would be for performance reasons and not political reasons.
I’m always happy to answer any questions on this matter (or anything else). I hope this back story helps. I’m not defending or criticizing what those framers had in mind, nor do I want to explain my personal position in this newsletter, however I thought it might help give some context to your local government.
Enjoy our warmer weather!
Town Council President – District 5 Representative