TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - More money is coming to Indiana's deteriorating roadways thanks to a change made by state lawmakers. Each county in the state is set to rake in big bucks beginning next month.
Drive in any county in the Valley and you'll come across some roadways in poor condition. That's why one lawmaker vowed to make infrastructure a priority, and why those who work on our roads are now very thankful to have the extra cash to make their jobs a little easier.
Chip and seal. That's a typical job for the workers of the Vigo County Highway Department. However, property tax caps passed by state lawmakers cut local government monies, meaning projects like this are not as common as they used to be. In fact, rainy day funds once helped get county roads fixed until this year.
"This year, there were no rainy day funds appropriated, so this money will come in handy," said Dan Bennett, the superintendent of the Vigo County Highway Department. "This money" he refers to is new monies coming to Vigo County from the state. The Indiana Association of Counties estimates Vigo County will receive about $900,000 for both 2014 and 2015. State Representative Alan Morrison of Terre Haute campaigned on getting more monies for local roads.
"As I criss-crossed the district from Vigo County to Fountain and Warren County, I saw roads that should not be in the shape that they are," said Morrison.
Local governments receive state funding for roads from the Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) account. In the past, other agencies such as State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles received money from MVH. Not anymore. The change in funding will certainly give the county a shot in the arm for the next couple of years. The question now is: is this change in funding permanent? Morrison says the answer is "yes."
"The way we crafted this and structured it, it is not just a temporary two-year budgetary item. It is a long-term sustainable project," said Morrison.
If that's the case, Bennett says he could free up other monies in his budget to help Vigo County highways in other ways.
"That would even let us pick up some extra help, another guy or two, because we're really short-handed," said Bennett.
To clarify, the money from MVH fund must be used for roads. Morrison says state highways will also benefit from this, as well as roads and streets in municipalities. Also, Morrison said the budget changes still fully fund both the BMV and State Police.
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