VRA President’s letter:
Hello Village Residents,
We were fortunate to have a VRA meeting on October 26 in person at the SullivanMunce for the first time in nearly two years. We reelected all of our officers, and had some great discussions about town projects. One topic on the agenda was an overview of the Gateway Area project. I encourage everyone to look at the website ( zionsvillegatewayarea.com) and review the October presentation, plus the supporting documentation. It will be discussed at a Tuesday, November 16 special Plan Commission meeting at 7 p.m. Attend if you have questions, or send comments to the town. Email and contact information can be found on the town website.
We also discussed the possibility of continuing with our progressive dinner, an annual limited-guest event. We compromised on December Desserts at one location, and a larger porch party in the spring. More details will come in the near future – watch your email. It will be limited to a small number of people. If anyone is interested in helping to organize either of these, please let me know.
One goal for 2022 is to continue meeting in person at the SullivanMunce on a more consistent basis. We’re hopeful we can do more of that and the VRA board will meet soon to figure out a schedule.
As we near the end of 2021, there are a few events to remember in the upcoming weeks. November 15 is America Recycles Day. An article below includes all sorts of information about what can be recycled and some tips for recycling in Zionsville. November 27 kicks off Christmas in the Village. Small Business Saturday is the perfect day to visit Village businesses for holiday shopping. On average when you spend $100 with a local business, $48 stays in the community versus only $14 for a national retailer. After a day of shopping, stick around for the holiday parade from 5-6 p.m. that Saturday.
As we put together plans for next year, if you have story ideas for the Village voice or ideas for our VRA meetings, please send them my way.
Letter from Town Council President, Josh Garrett
On October 18th, the Council gave final approval to the budget proposed by Mayor Styron by a vote of 5-1. This budget provided many challenges based on flat revenues estimated by the State and we are pleased that we were able to pass a balanced budget again this year. The focus of this budget was approving a 4% raise to our municipal workers who support the various services offered by the Town including economic development, roads, and public safety. This was a priority shared by both the Mayor and Council.
Despite the passing of the budget, the Town Council remains concerned about the lack of new firefighters and police officers for 2022. During the budget process the fire department leadership requested 9 new members to the department. This was supported by two different internal analysis that showed a need of between 7 and 11 new firefighters and support staff. In addition, the 5-year plan for the police department showed a need for 10 officers over that period. That follows a report issued by the administration during the transition that stated a need for 10 new officers immediately. This comes as ZPD will lose one current officer to a school resource officer position when the new elementary school opens.
The Mayor is aware of our concerns and disagreed in the meeting that we need any new public safety officers. She is waiting for the results of her own third-party study on the fire department before any new positions would be considered, although no date of that report was given. While we support a data-driven approach to staffing levels, our hope is that process concludes quickly and can show what gaps exist. The 2022 budget includes $250,000 in overtime expenses that are needed to support staffing shortages. The Council would prefer to hire new members of the department over relying on existing members to be made to staff shifts when shortfalls exist.
While the budget was passed to meet State deadlines for a budget, we can make continued changes to it. There was not enough information before our deadline to propose cuts to find money for these additional personnel in a sustainable manner. We are anxious to hear updates from the Styron administration on these findings and have constructive dialogue on current spending items that may need to be postponed ensuring the safety of our public safety professionals and the community. Our plan is to have this better defined (staffing levels, hire dates, funding sources) before year end.
Josh Garrett Zionsville
Town Council President