Indianapolis increases budget for roads, still looking for other funding sources

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- By unanimous vote, the City-County Council passed Mayor Joe Hogsett's 2019 budget for Indianapolis.

The $1.1 billion budget gives $700 million to public safety and $126 million to infrastructure, but some say that's not enough.

“We’re talking about decades' worth of under spending, at least since we’ve had Unigov in this city.”

City-County Councilman Jared Evans says the city needs to spend around $170 million a year just to maintain a state of good repair, but that money just isn’t there.

“So every year that we don’t hit that mark, were adding money or adding infrastructure to the infrastructure debt which is about $700 million right now,” Evans said.

The 2019 budget includes a roughly $30 million increase in infrastructure spending. That's puts the total up to $126 million, still nearly $50 short of that goal.

“There’s never enough money for all the infrastructure needs, but we’re making important progress,” said Hogsett.

Just this month, a new bipartisan infrastructure commission led by Evans met for the first time, working with state lawmakers to find more funding sources.

“We can’t just come out and create all these new taxes and do all these types of things," said Evans. "We are very restricted in what we’re able to do by the state of Indiana, so they have to be apart of any solution that we have.”

Across the aisle, State Senator Jim Merritt agrees, but also believes the city has to step up as well.

“Extra money that actually is coming from state coffers is one way to budget," Merritt said. "But they have got to solve some of their own problems at times as well... there are a myriad of different ways that the city can find solutions on their own, with the state’s assistance.”

As the new commission begins to meet, both parties at both levels are hoping to come up with a solution to fix the problem once and for all.

“We’re playing catch up," said City-County Councilor Colleen Fanning.  "It’s time to have some game changing mechanisms so that we’re actually ahead of the ball this time instead of running behind every time the weather turns. “

Evans personally said he wants to explore ways the city can capitalize on the convention business.

The group has had just one meeting so far, and hope to make recommendations by the end of the year.