Tonight's street paving work session was interesting to say the least. The attendees were ( in no particular order) Dan Coffey, Kevin Zurschmeide, Bob Caesar, Carl Malysz and John Rosenbarger. With Daniel Suddeath from the Tribune and Randy Smith and myself from no place in particular.
The meeting started innocently enough with John Rosenbarger explaining how T.I.F. (tax incremental funding) areas work. The laws have changed making it harder to use these funds outside of the exact area where they originated. The funds must be used either directly in the T.I.F. area or an area directly adjacent to it. So in simpler terms the streets to be paved must be in the T.I.F. area where the funds come from.
Dan Coffey went on to explain the origination of EDIT funds. The original purpose was to pay for the jail and to be dissolved after that. But as we all know, that did not happen. He added that EDIT funds are taxpayer money and should be used to benefit all of the taxpayers. Can't argue with that.
The actual argument was not that the streets need to be paved but how and where the needed funds are to be obtained. Carl Malysz wants a draw bond for $10,000,000 to be used at the administration's discretion for street paving and improvements to the sidewalks, traffic lights, etc. Kevin Zurschmeide and Dan Coffey want the administration to obtain bids for specific areas to be paved and bring the bids to the council for approval. Additionally, they want to use available T.I.F. and EDIT funds to cut down on the amount of debt incurred. This plan was echoed by Bob Caesar who added that he disliked the idea of borrowing.
So we have two plans to go before the next council meeting. There will be at least one other work session before the next council meeting.
We have a choice, citizens of New Albany.
Plan A: Pay as you go, use available T.I.F. and EDIT funds (not completely drain these funds) to cut down on debt and pave the streets over time, approximately 3 years.
Plan B: Obtain a draw bond (similar to a line of credit) and pave as many streets as possible in as short of time as possible.
Either way, the streets need to be paved as we all know. Additionally lower fuel prices mean lower prices to blacktop the streets so time is of the essence.
Readers, please weigh in on these plans and attend the next work session and council meeting. A decision needs to be made and our council members need to know how the majority of citizens feel about this. It is after all our money they are talking about spending.