Pharos-Tribune

Local News

April 30, 2013

Counties expecting more road funding

INDIANAPOLIS — After begging for more infrastructure funding for years, local governments in Indiana are finally getting their wish: Millions of more dollars from the state to repair the crumbling roads and bridges in their communities.

The $30 billion budget deal reached by House and Senate leaders with Gov. Mike Pence earmarks more than $215 million in new road funding annually for the next two fiscal years, with about $100 million of that projected for counties, cities and towns.

It marks the first increase in road funding for local communities in more than a decade.

Matt Groeller, head of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, called it the best news to come out of the 2013 legislative session.

“It’s something cities and towns have been asking for, for many years,” Groeller said. “It’s desperately needed for economic development. Without good roads, communities suffer, schools suffer, the local economy suffers. We don’t have anything if we don’t have good roads.”

Officials with the Indiana Association of Counties were just as celebratory. The final budget deal reached late Thursday makes all counties eligible for the extra road money as soon as July 1. It deletes language added by the Senate that required counties to have an excise surtax or wheel tax to tap into the new road funding.  

“This was our No. 1 priority this year,” said association head David Bortoff. “There was nothing more important.”

Jeff Smith, superintendent of the Cass County Highway Department, said his department has needed the money for some time, as revenues have decreased or stayed the same and the cost of work has increased.

Because of the lack of money, the highway department has had to reduce the number of miles of road it resurfaces each year, he said.

Now, with an expected increase of $666,912 for their 2014 budget, Smith said the money will be used “directly on the roads,” mostly for road resurfacing and adding a pavement preservative to more miles of county road.  

“It will be a noticeable increase,” Smith said.

Carroll County is also receiving a projected increase of $541,753, Pulaski County will receive a projected increase of $582,393 and White County will receive a projected increase of $666,934.

The additional road funding is significant, given a decade of decline: Between 2000 and 2010, the major sources of road repair money collected by the state and doled out to local governments dropped by about $100 million.

During that time, good roads went bad and bad roads went to pot. Both Bortoff and Groeller said there are communities around the state that let their paved roads turn back into gravel because they could no afford to repair them.

In 2009, studies estimated it would take more $800 million to fix about half of all county paved roads in Indiana that are badly need of repair.

The budget bill only allocates a fraction of that. It projects there will be $136 million more in road funding for counties over the next two fiscal years, and $64 million more for cities and towns.  

But the budget bill also makes some changes that could lead to a continuing source of road repair dollars.

It rejects the Pence plan to beef up road funding with money now going to pay off the state’s pension obligations, and instead takes about $135 million in fuel taxes now going to the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and shifts that money into road repair.

It also reallocates 1 percent of the current sales tax into the state’s motor vehicle highway fund, from which state and local road repair money is doled out.

The budget bill also sets aside $200 million a year to go into the new Major Moves 2020 Fund to pay for future major road projects, such as expanding Interstate 65 and Interstate 70.

Bortoff predicts local communities will start to see the extra road money be put to work by late summer, when communities can start accessing those extra dollars.

“We’re encouraging our members not to pull back on what they’re  currently spending and use that money to spend on something else,” Bortoff said. “This is money that should be used to supplement existing road dollars, not supplant them.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • UPDATED: Logansport HS teacher arrested on child seduction charge

    A Logansport High School teacher was arrested Thursday on a charge of child seduction.

    April 18, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 18, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS-PT041814 LC50 cords.jpg 50 years later WALTON -- Dean "D.A." Zehring graduated from the current Lewis Cass High School, but he never attended classes there. It's one of the unique characteristics of the graduating class of 1968, the first class to complete all four years of high school un

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Caston considers Logan bus stop FULTON -- Caston Schools administrators are considering establishing a bus stop a few miles outside its boundaries on the north side of Logansport. The school board recently discussed the feasibility of adding a bus stop for students transferring fro

    April 18, 2014

  • mushroom Parks let mushroom hunters forage off-trail INDIANAPOLIS - Rain that pounded Brown County State Park in early April dampened the number of hikers and mountain bikers in Indiana's largest state park, but foragers of the property's 15,000 acres of forest welcomed the weather. With the arrival o

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police blotter: April 17, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 G.jpg Sign of support: Class meant to connect hearing-impaired family members Jordanna Dishner-Rush gestured forcefully to a coat rack hanging in the back of the meeting room at the Logansport Library. She was trying to use just hand motions — no speech — to get the other women to guess the secret word she'd been given. Dishne

    April 17, 2014 12 Photos

  • Logansport graduation rate rises again Logansport High School's graduation rate jumped almost 2 percentage points to 92.9 percent in 2013, data released Wednesday show. The Indiana Department of Education released graduation data for the 2012-2013 school year Wednesday. The data show that

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 Mustangs.jpg Local dealer celebrates the Mustang Fifty years ago today, the Ford Mustang was introduced to the public at the New York World's Fair. Now, six of them will be on display for the next few weeks at Rick's Auto Sales in Logansport celebrating what the business owner says is a half centur

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Redevelopment commission proposes new TIF expansion The Logansport Redevelopment Commission is now considering including land surrounding Water Street in a proposed consolidation of the city's tax increment financing districts. A tax increment financing, or TIF, district, captures the increments of an

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
eEdition