INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - During his state of the city address on Wednesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett publicly announced a proposal for a regional infrastructure framework.
"The concepts you’ll find there do not redirect one dime of revenues currently enjoyed by our city or by our neighbors," Hogsett said. "Rather, it would seek to dedicate a portion of future income tax growth to a regional infrastructure fund.”
The Indiana Business Research Center reports 161,500 people who work in Marion County commute from surrounding counties. Hogsett said Marion County taxpayers are disproportionately burdened with building, maintaining and replacing roads and bridges used by them and those outside the county.
"With the income taxes paid by these commuters exclusively benefiting the counties where they live, Marion County taxpayers bear the brunt of the financial burden for infrastructure which serves the entire region," Hogsett said during his speech.
Kathy Davis, adviser to the city, said the framework for this concept would require all nine counties in the region to contribute a portion of their future income tax growth on the first 1% of their local tax rate. The proceeds of the funds would be distributed based on usage, so the most-used roadways would receive the necessary money for upkeep.
"Some counties will end up giving more than they receive and it all depends on the traffic on their roads," Davis said.
Davis said five of the nine counties in the region would see an increase in funding while the other four would be "donors."
Marion County leaders believe this plan would produce between $50 million and $100 million in annual road funding. But, the concept must pass the statehouse in budget cycle 2021.
Davis said the plan will require commitments from all counties involved. Mayor Scott Fadness of Fishers replied a couple hours after the state of the city.
"I’m perplexed by Mayor Hogsett’s proposal that is not consistent with the work the Central Indiana Conference of Elected Officials has been doing collectively over the last year," Fadness said. "While I agree that regionalism is important, I believe we need to find a solution that will transcend political seasons and ensure the long-term sustainability of our region."
State Senator Jim Merritt is challenging Hogsett to become the next mayor of Indianapolis. He also sent a statement to FOX59. Here is the full statement:
"After three-and-a-half years of treading water, Mayor Hogsett has started to present plans to move Indianapolis ahead," Merritt said. "Unfortunately, those plans are shallow—only skimming the surface—at a time when Indianapolis needs deeper insight into the serious problems plaguing our city.
He spoke of plans for a Regional Development Authority involving Marion County and the surrounding eight counties working together on infrastructure issues. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we have been working in the state legislature on this very topic over the past several years. The mayor says that this now is a priority and yet he hasn’t engaged with legislators once to help push this concept forward. He’s been treading water waiting for others to do the work. I, myself, have already met with all of the mayors in Central Indiana on this important topic.
Three-and-a-half years – and this is what we get? It took another election cycle for Mayor Hogsett to finally wake up and start talking about plans and improvements. Do you really trust that his way of operating will change in a second term and become more effective, more thoughtful, more inclusive?
I’ve been actively leading the fight for Hoosier cities and Hoosier citizens for almost three decades in the State Senate. Just today, legislation I created was signed by the governor on important issues affecting our most challenged, while the mayor only talks of what he will do.
It won’t take me three-and-a-half years as your mayor to start accomplishing our goals. When I take office, we will begin a comprehensive evaluation of all streets and our infrastructure and we will begin making improvements as soon as possible. I will focus on public safety, education and those issues that affect all of our families within the first few weeks of my administration. I won’t tread water for even a second. We’ll dive right in and start solving problems from day one.”
You can find more information about the plans by visiting www.indy.gov.