City Dems propose $16 million more for road repairs

The partisan fighting over Indianapolis road repairs will continue well into the construction season.

City-County Council Democrats announced Tuesday morning that they would introduce a proposal at the council’s May 12 meeting to spend $16 million more on emergency repaving than has been planned by the Department of Public Works.

To do that, the Democrats want to spend $8 million of the $15 million that’s in the general Transportation Fund and to borrow $8 million from the Fiscal Stability Fund, which helps maintain the city’s credit rating. The money taken from the $73.1 million Fiscal Stability Fund would be repaid by June 30, 2015, according to the Democrats’ press release, which doesn’t indicate how the money would be returned.

The Democrats point out that DPW has identified $24 million in emergency needs following a brutal winter. The council Public Works Committee on May 1 approved spending $8.3 million from the Rebuild Indy fund, but only after DPW agreed to revise the project list so that work would be done in each district.

Democrats are saying the $8.3 million isn’t enough.

“The city of Indianapolis has the financial resources available now to address the emergency needs identified by DPW without incurring additional costs for taxpayers, and ensuring that funds are distributed in a fair and equitable way,” the council majority’s press release states.

Republican Mayor Greg Ballard wants to address remaining needs with his Rebuild Indy 2 plan, which includes issuing a 30-year, $150 million bond. Many Democrats, including public works committee Chairman Vernon Brown, oppose that plan.

"It's great that the council Democrats finally recognize that our roads are in need of repair, but this doesn't go nearly far enough," Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said of the Democrats' new plan. He said Ballard introduced Rebuild Indy 2 last August. "And the council has done nothing on it, after initially supporting it."

Council President Maggie Lewis said the Democrats’ plan is a “fiscally responsible way to get emergency road repairs completed this summer."

“The longer we wait, the more our roads will deteriorate and the more it will cost to fix them,” Lewis said in the prepared statement.

Lotter said the mayor will consider the proposal if it passes the council, where Democrats have a one-vote majority.

"This council has supported many things that they have later not actually passed," he said. "If this council is actually able to pass something, the mayor will look at it at that time.”

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