Today's quiz: What's the sixth-largest city in Indiana?
Answer: Hammond. Its population (76,732) puts it between fifth-place Gary ((95,920) and seventh-place Bloomington (71,819). But if the suggested merger between Greenwood and White River Township in Johnson County goes through, Hammond and Bloomington are each going to go down a notch:
If the reorganization is approved, Greenwood (with 46,000 residents) and White River Township (with about 40,000) would combine to be one of the state's largest cities.
Its population would less than Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend and Gary but more than Hammond, Bloomington, Fishers, Carmel and Muncie.
The township board and the city council have already approved the merger, so now it goes to a voter referendum on the May 4 ballot. If voters in both jurisdictions approve it, the merger will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011.
The idea for this particular merger came up because the township has become more urban than rural, and county agencies such as the sheriff's office are having trouble providing the services they need to without neglecting the rest of the county. City residents will see their property taxes go up, while township rates will go up; that might be one reason voters in the township might vote no. Another hitch is that the new city council would have 11 members, which would be the biggest council outside Indianapolis-Marion County.
As the reality of property tax caps starts to sink in, we're going to see more of these. Enough signatures have been gathered to lauch an Evansville/Vanderburgh County merger referendum, and a couple of school corporations are reportedly considering their merger options.