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Regionalism: A Call to Action - Part 1

February 13, 2020

 

 

Those sneaky sons of guns.  Senate Bill 350 barreled right on through the Senate with only one Senator casting a vote against it.  The digest of the bill authorizing Central Indiana's Regional Development Authority (aka CI-RDA or CIRDA) states in part, “Requires counties and municipalities that wish to establish the development authority to adopt similar resolutions…[which] shall be governed by a strategy committee…amends the definition of “economic development projects” under the local income tax statute…[by the] governing provisions of the Indianapolis metropolitan planning organization.”

 

The bill action shows that it has been sent to the House Ways and Means Committee.  As no subsequent action is showing at the time of this blog post, we ask that you please send an email to the following Representatives and let them know where you stand on Regionalism:

Chairman Tim Brown:  H21@in.gov

Vice Chairman Bob Cherry:  H53@in.gov

Ways & Means Committeemember Todd Huston:  H37@in.gov 

 

Historically speaking, Westfield and Carmel entered into this agreement in 2015 according to CI-RDA’s website, but Fishers and Noblesville are chomping at the bit to get to the funds too, or at least that's how I hear it.  The website is chocked-full of information regarding its goals, one of which is bringing IndyGo’s piss-poor-performing Red Line to the North.

 

Fishers and Noblesville are likely in line to benefit from the funding mechanisms of regionalism.  Money is the motivating factor after all.  Money and politics.  Committing to regionalism opens up federal dollars from Housing and Urban Development’s Community Block Grants to the Department of Transportation and a host of bureaucratic agencies in between, not-to-mention the ability to assess a regional tax.  While it may allow taxing units to align their current revenues as a way to invest in mutually beneficial infrastructure projects, it also fulfills an Obama-era agenda.  Municipalities want federal money so the government has the right to attach conditions to them. If the community does not like the conditions, it can forego the federal funds and that's what I'll be explaining in subsequent posts about this topic.   Regional Cities Grant Request totals are $30 million for three priority projects which are:  the Red Line, 16 Tech (in Indianapolis) and Trails & Bikeway Development.  Are these YOUR priorities?    

 

According to one study, and the best and most comprehensive I could find, “Doing something regionally means not doing it locally.”  Haven’t we all lamented that “Westfield is no Fishers” or made some catty remark about our “neighbors to the south with all the debt”?  The 48-page report, published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, goes on to cite four major challenges of regionalism:  philosophical, political, governance and empirical evidence.

 

So, who in the world is responsible for getting us this far down the road without the people of Hamilton County seeing it coming?  The Hamilton County Mayors.  “A region typically lacks constituents more loyal to it than to their localities…”, according to Regionalism on Purpose.  If you want to side-step your taxpayers, current city common council or planning commission, lead them toward regionalism.  Like it or not, this is an agenda that has partisan-politics written all over it.  Unfortunately, it’s not the side of party politics to which I subscribe. 

 

If you want to know why “transparency” has always been a mantra clamored for by the people, this is one of those times.  The inter-workings and long-term goals of a municipality don’t happen overnight, but if anyone would have been transparent about their need to regionalize Hamilton County, we would already be aware of the “value’s, versatility and vulnerabilities” of such an endeavor as Regionalism on Purpose warns.  Instead, it's a conversation held behind closed doors unfettered by the prying eyes and ears of the residents.

 

Reference

Foster, K. A. (2001). Regionalism on Purpose.  Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.lincolninst.edu/sites/default/files/pubfiles/regionalism-on-purpose-full.p

 

Marla Ailor, the Vice-President of the Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County and Director of Westfield, is a wife, mother and student.  She joined our team in 2018 and is a 21-year resident of unincorporated Westfield-Washington Township. 

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