County considers contribution for corridor study

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Funding to help cover the cost of the Midstate Corridor project’s feasibility study will be the topic of discussion at a meeting this week between representatives of Dubois County, Jasper and Huntingburg.

Half of the $7 million cost is to come from public entities, with the other half coming from private companies. What percentage the county will cover of the public entities’ $3.5 million portion was a topic the Dubois County Commissioners discussed Monday.

Commissioner Chad Blessinger and Dubois County Council President Jerry Hunefeld will meet with the city mayors on Thursday to discuss the funding split for public entities.

The Midstate Corridor group has been working for years to get a four-lane, limited-access highway that would run north from Owensboro, Kentucky, go around Huntingburg and Jasper and continue north to connect to I-69. That corridor would ease traffic on U.S. 231 between I-64 and I-69 through Dubois, Martin and Spencer counties, organizers have said. The group is hoping to get the Indiana Department of Transportation to make the road more of a priority and is looking to contribute local funding to help the project along.

The state Legislature passed a bill last year that allows municipalities participating in a regional development authority to create a fund specifically for regional infrastructure projects and contribute local money to those funds.

That authority, with includes representatives from Dubois and Spencer counties, Jasper and Huntingburg has been formed. Some members will be a part of a May 14 meeting the Midstate Corridor will have with Gov. Eric Holcomb and the head of the Indiana Department of Transportation.

On Monday, Blessinger wanted to get the other commissioners’ input, to make sure he adequately represents their views during Thursday’s meeting.

Commissioner Elmer Brames said that the county’s share should be in the 40-something-percent range. He mentioned that calculations that have been done have been based on population, on the county’s assessed valuation including tax-increment finance districts, and on the assessed valuation not including those districts.

“That ranged between 43 and 47 percent,” Brames said. That range would be between $1.5 and $1.65 million.

Blessinger asked if other groups, like Spencer County and the towns in Dubois County, should be asked to contribute. Brames said he didn’t think that should be pressed because most of the project’s focus is on getting the road built in Dubois County, and because it would benefit the county and cities more than the towns.

The idea is to have these percentages pretty much determined before the May 14 meeting. The Dubois County Council will ultimately decide how much the county’s contribution will be, but council members tend to ask for input from the commissioners.

Commissioner Nick Hostetter said Monday that he hopes the county’s contribution will come from income tax revenue the county receives. “If we can do this without raising taxes, we should,” he said. “And have to keep in mind that not only do we have this, we (may) have to build a jail.”

That will also take funding, he added.

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