Of all the road funding plans you’ll hear about in the 2016, Sen. Brandt Hershman has the one that you can take to the bank.
Ugh. Even I hate myself for using that pun.
It’s Senate Bill 67: a $418 million infusion for local roads that doesn’t use any borrowing or increase any taxes. It’s instant. It’s local. It’s paid in cash. The governor immediately hopped on board, and even legislative Democrats have voiced some support. It will pass, even if there are minor changes to it along the way.
How does it work? The state basically holds a savings account for local units of government when higher than expected local option income taxes roll in. There’s a sizable balance in that account right now, so Hershman returns a chunk of it to the local level. He does a nice job of explaining it on his website.
Here at IE, our favorite thing about the plan is that he’s already posted the breakdown of the funding distribution. Want to know how much cash your municipality will receive? You can see it right now.
Maybe I’m not like most people, but I didn’t look at my own town first when I opened up that list. Let me take a brief tangent to explain.
I love going to high school football games in Indiana.
The crisp autumn air. The rambunctious student section. The nachos. On fall Friday nights, football demands to be watched.
When I go to a game, the first thing I do when I get to my seat is take out the roster and look directly at the “weight” column. My goal is to find the biggest and smallest players on the team. What can I say? Our society likes the extremes. If you say you don’t do the same thing, you’re probably lying.
I thought about those rosters when I saw Senator Hershman’s list, because the first thing I did was find lightest player.
In Hershman’s plan, it happens to be the metropolis of New Amsterdam. Population: 27
I’m not bashing small towns. I love small towns. I’m from a small town. But 27 people? That’s not a town. That’s Jem and the Holograms opening weekend!
Think that’s low? After the 2000 census, the town had 15 minutes of fame for having a population of 1. Now, it’s booming!
New Amsterdam is a tiny Hoosier town bumping up against the Ohio River. It used to be the biggest town in Harrison County before a flood in 1937 wiped it out. Now, it’s slated to see a road funding windfall of – wait for it – $21.
Twenty-one bucks. Enough to buy a traffic cone from Amazon (assuming they’re a Prime member and get the free shipping).
They could probably generate that much cash by switching to Geico.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing the amount. Tiny town. Not many roads. Not many registered vehicles. Not much LOIT collected. A tiny payout is appropriate. Their last audited numbers (from 2010) say they received $509 for local roads that year. So – hey! – 4 percent windfall!
They aren’t alone in the 2-digit club. The Town of Wallace gets $78. St. Leon, a cool $81. Laconia, $85. And Cadiz damn near hit the lottery at $99.
I’ve actually put in a call to town officials to discuss what they’d do with the money. I’ve yet to hear back, but I will be sure to update you if I do.
My advice? Hop across the county to the Horseshoe Casino and bet the Pass Line. Then buy two traffic cones.