Noblesville to join Fishers in ranks of second-class cities

Noblesville’s days as a third-class city are numbered.

Common Council members voted 5-2 Tuesday to elevate the city’s status to second-class effective Jan. 1, 2016, after the next municipal election.

Fewer than two dozen Indiana communities carry the population-based designation, which calls for adding two seats to the seven-member council and dividing the clerk-treasurer’s duties between an elected clerk and a mayor-appointed controller.

“Having grown up here, it’s like, ‘We’ve come a long way, baby,’” Councilor Jeff Zeckel said before the vote.  

Noblesville passed the 35,000-resident population threshold years ago but officials decided not to reclassify the city at the time. They revisited the issue given the suburban community’s continued growth; it now has about 55,000 residents. (For more on city classes, see IBJ's Nov. 16 story on the topic.)

“We’re the county seat in the most lively county in the state of Indiana,” said Councilor Gregory P. O’Connor. “I think this is the right move to make at the right time.”

Neighboring Fishers is set to become Hamilton County’s first second-class city in 2015, when it completes its transition from a town. Carmel has no immediate plans to change its third-class status.

Indianapolis is the only city in the state that qualifies for first-class designation.

Supporters of Noblesville’s shift touted the additional representation that a larger council offers. One council district will be added, and voters will elect another at-large representative.

Councilors Rick Taylor and Steve Wood opposed the measure.

“It does create bigger government,” Taylor said. “But that comes at a cost, and that cost does not go away.”

What’s your take on the change? Does class matter to anyone other than elected officials?

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