Commissioners: Gas tax will help with Vanderburgh roads, bridges

May 16, 2017

By Shannon Hall

Not much new information was revealed at Tuesday’s State of the County address by the commissioners.

Commission President Bruce Ungethiem said he was told Vanderburgh County would receive about $3-4 million a year from the gas tax, which will be implemented July 1. Hoosiers will now pay 28 cents per gallon at the pump, but local government will reap some of the rewards.

Ungethiem isn’t sure when the county will start receiving the funds, but expects to hear more leading up to July.

“We have a number of roads that are in need of repair and we didn’t have the money to be able to do that,” Ungethiem said. “With the additional money coming from the state … we’re going to prioritize many more roads.”

The county oversees 157 bridges — five of which need to be replaced — so the funding will help over time, Ungethiem said.

Overall, Ungethiem said the county is in fair condition, but is improving.

Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave said the county is also making small fixes, such as changing meeting times. By moving the commissioners’ meeting to 3 p.m., less people have to be paid overtime.

“I am happy to report that meeting attendance has increased by 78 percent, with 160 more people than at the same time last year,” she said.

One other item the commissioners are working on is to create a more streamlined licensing process. Musgrave said it currently takes 60 days or more to get a building permit.

Commissioners did tease a “big” economic development that will be coming in the next few weeks.

Commissioner Ben Shoulders said the commission has had some success in the first four months of a new commission. Shoulders and Musgrave were elected last year.

One success, Shoulders said, was amending the humans relations ordinance. 

“A diverse labor force is a driver of economic prosperity in our community,” Shoulders said. “By continuing to create inclusive, engaging and welcoming community, this voluntary anti-discrimination amendment offers protections to those who work in Vanderburgh County and has an impact on businesses that chose to invest and locate in our region.”

Before closing out, Shoulders asked Rotarians and guests to one thing to keep in mind.

“I request that each of us … to approach each day with a can-do spirit, with optimism.  Shoulders said. “… If we as a county can focus on these things by listening to one another … then when we’re together again in a year or so, I’m confident we’ll have even more success stories to share.”

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