INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced a new proposal for regional road funding and some other mayors in the region aren’t too thrilled.
Recent data shows that roughly one out of every four people working in Marion County live in the surrounding eight counties. While they drive the roads every day, their tax dollars stay with their own counties. Mayor Hogsett thinks it’s about time they pay their share.
"Marion County tax payers bear the brunt of the financial burden for infrastructure which serves the entire region,” Hogsett said during Wednesday's State of the City Address.
During the speech, Hogsett announced a new proposal to include eight surrounding counties into a road funding pool. It would take a small portion of income tax growth from each county and spread it out based on the amount of traffic each county has.
"It's too narrowly focused," said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness. "It's resourced strap so it’s taking from one to give to another, so long term that doesn't actually move everyone's boat up so to speak.”
Fadness says he and other mayors have been working on a different regional funding plan for over a year. Their plan focuses on more than just roads.
"We have to think so far beyond potholes," Fadness said. "Yes that’s a challenge, (but) so is crime, so is wage attainment in our region, so is economic opportunity, so is inclusive economic development, affordable housing, you name it. So for us, this has been a holistic approach to try to solve those issues, not a narrow focus to try to solve a pressing immediate issue for one community.”
In Mayor Hogsett’s plan, four counties (Boone, Hamilton, Johnson and Hendricks) would contribute more than they receive. Hamilton County would pay the largest amount of any of the nine counties.
“To take from Hamilton County to give to Marion County is going to be a real tough sell here in Hamilton County,” said Westfield Mayor Andy Cook.
Hamilton County would cover an estimated 33 percent of the fund, but only receive 18 percent. Marion County would contribute 32 percent and receive 46 percent.
“Yes it fixes some problems on the roads in Marion County which our drivers contribute to, I absolutely recognize that," Cook said. "But we think there’s a more equitable and marketable way to do this.”
Cook says he agrees in the idea of regionalism and a regional plan. However, he wants to see a plan that includes more funding sources instead of taking funding his city uses to grow.
"Indianapolis obviously has a pothole problem, and when Indianapolis has a problem it affects all of us," Cook said. "There needs to be something put together to help our mother city. Their finances are absolutely stretched to the hilt, we all understand that, but I think we need to look at generating some new funds.”
Along with finding more funding methods, both mayors in Hamilton County want a more inclusive plan that covers more than just roads. However, they are happy to see the conversation of regionalism take center stage.
"We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves, and come to some sort of conclusion but we’re going to have to do that together," Fadness said.
The mayor of Greenwood, Mark Myers also responded saying:
“I was surprised to hear Mayor Hogsett’s proposal for the first time last night. It doesn’t reflect the conversations many mayors and town leaders have been having about ways to collaborate and invest in transformative projects. I’m committed to working on solutions that will benefit Greenwood residents and the region.”
This proposal will have to pass through the state legislature before it can be implemented.
We also reached out to the office of Mayor Joe Hogsett and received a statement that said:
“The Regional Infrastructure Funding concept released Wednesday night in the State of the City address begins the discussion on regionalism as it pertains to the maintenance and repair of the roadways commuters use daily throughout Central Indiana. This is just one concept, and not the only way forward. We think there is a growing consensus that infrastructure needs don’t stop at county lines, and we look forward to input and collaboration from leaders from all eight surrounding counties as we reimagine regional infrastructure funding in the years to come.”