Interview with Pete Peterson of the GUO
Now that the four-year Geist annexation fight is over, the GUO can officially close up shop. After the December 31st ruling by Judge Nation in Hamilton County that allowed Fishers to proceed with their forced annexation plans, Geist United Opposition supporters opted to not file an appeal.
“The Governor’s 1% property tax cap changed the game,” explained Peterson. “The net result is no increase in property taxes either way.”
State law does not allow a municipality to annex a territory the year preceding a census, thus pushing the Geist annexation effective date back until 2010. Geist residents will not begin paying taxes to Fishers until 2011.
“It’s very tough fighting City Hall,” admits Peterson. “Fighting a government group with unlimited funds is extremely difficult proposition. They can lawyer your to death.”
Fishers spent at least $1.3 million on legal fees compared to the GUO’s $150,000 tab that was raised through private donations from residents. Currently, the GUO is insolvent and will disband this month. Now that the opponents of the annexation are becoming Town of Fishers taxpayers, some residents are eyeing local council seats while others are looking to form a political action committee (PAC) group to influence future dealings of the Town.
“It’s hard to declare a winner, but I think we (the Geist residents) got more out of it than Fishers did,” said Peterson. “For $150,000, we saved millions of dollars in property taxes for our residents.”
As for Peterson, he’s looking forward to getting more of his time back. Reflecting back on the four-year battle, he did see a silver lining in his time spent with the GUO board and residents.
“I enjoyed meeting a lot of my neighbors and being associated with a great group of passionate people.”
Watch his complete interview below where Peterson explains why the GUO proceeded with the petition drive, burned bridges between Fishers and Geist, future elections in Fishers, and a “thank you” to the GUO board members, block captains, and donors.