Originally printed in the Hamilton County Report, Letter to the Editor, on April 12, 2017.
Responsible stewardship of tax dollars is the hallmark of good government. One fundamental principle should guide the use of public funds: taxes are investments on behalf of the public. As such, elected officials have a responsibility to ensure those investments result in tangible dividends to taxpayers. When it becomes evident that the public’s return on tax investments is stagnating, officeholders must consider fundamental changes in the way they approach those investments.
In recent years, infrastructure conditions in Indiana have seriously deteriorated, with 97% of local agencies citing inadequate revenue for road maintenance as a primary cause. The problem persists at the state level as well, with 9% of major roads in Indiana rated in “poor” condition. Fortunately, the state legislature is making strides to reverse this trend. House Bill 1002, a long-term infrastructure funding plan re-evaluates the way we fund our roads, since our current methods clearly fall short.
In the original version of HB 1002, one of the primary solutions to our local road funding woes is a significant expansion of the Community Crossings matching grant program. If passed, the measure would allocate a $193 million upfront cash infusion to the program, reduce the local matching requirement from 50% to 20%, and dedicate 1.5 cents (per gallon) of future gas tax revenues to the program, giving it a dedicated source of funds. The House road funding plan is based on the LTAP local need of $1.8 billion to eliminate all poor rated roads over the next years.
As passed out of the House, House Bill 1002 makes good financial sense. It gets to the heart of the structural flaws in the way Indiana finances its infrastructure, and gives state and local government the tools needed to invest your tax dollars effectively.
John Ditslear, City of Noblesville Mayor
Chris Jensen, Noblesville Common Council Vice President