INDIANAPOLIS– A growing number of central Indiana mayors are asking the General Assembly to reconsider how the state funds road improvements.
This comes after Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced in July what changes he’d like the statehouse to consider regarding this issue.
Shortly after that announcement, Indianapolis city officials presented Mayor Hogsett’s proposal to nearly a dozen other mayors in surrounding communities, collectively called the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority, or CIRDA for short.
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley says roughly a third of all traffic in the state is contained within the Indianapolis Metropolitan area, but that the same area receives significantly less funding for roads compared to some other rural counties.
”It’s out of whack,” Mayor Buckley said.
According to Mayor Buckley, for every dollar Marion County residents spend on the gas tax, only 12 cents goes back to the county for road repairs.
”We would like to see that 100 percent of what we invested come back to Marion County,” Dennis Buckley said.
”It’s not just an Indianapolis issue anymore,” Dan Parker, Mayor Hogsett’s chief of staff, said.
Parker said the city currently needs an additional $600 million per year for the foreseeable future to take care of its roads, and that the state’s funding formula doesn’t take into account residents who live outside Indianapolis who commute to and from the city each day.
”It’s never really been tweaked to sort of account for traffic,” Parker said.
“A lot of the road funding formulas have been around for decades…and so I think as we grow as a community, and as we grow as a central Indiana region, we should be talking about what that looks like,” Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen said.
”It is very surprising,” City of Elwood Mayor Todd Jones said.
While Mayor Jones said he is thankful these conversations are taking place, he emphasized the need to include counties outside central Indiana.
”There needs to be some conversations with rural communities and the impact that it’s going to have,” Mayor Jones said.
Parker said under Mayor Hogsett’s proposal, 40 more rural counties would lose a combined $20 million in road funding.
”When you tinker with formulas, unfortunately, it does end up creating winners and losers, but we feel like the time is right to sort of reallocate these dollars to where the traffic is,” Parker said.
“Traffic count is traffic count, and facts and figures will speak to this, and we need to make sure that we have a fair allocation across the state,” Mayor Jensen said.
The state’s road funding task force is scheduled to meet Thursday, Sept. 28, at the statehouse.