While 3rd district obstructionist Steve Price is busy holding up efforts to use an EDIT fund surplus to pave streets, The Tribune asked how much New Albany could pave if CM Jeff Gahan's proposal to add $500,000 of that surplus to existing funds were enacted. The answer: an estimated 18 miles.
The City receives approximately $1.5 million in EDIT funds each year. Outside of the small Scribner Place payment of $137,500, the pittance used to set Economic Development Director Paul Wheatley up for failure, and a tiny $20,000 committment to the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency, New Albany has over $1.2 million in economic development funds at its disposal per annum, outside of the current surplus. One drain on those funds, debt service on a downtown parking garage, will end soon. The misguided jail bond is paid off already.
Mr. Wheatley has at various times provided some solid thinking on the subject of how the money might be used only to have the Council respond to his well-researched ideas with a sucking force normally saved for rare earth magnets.
In addition to Wheatley's sensible requests for funds last year to be used as a match from the City to fund a downtown low interest loan pool in coordination with local banks and the Urban Enterprise Zone and to provide preliminary design studies on vacant or deteriorating historic buildings in our downtown in an effort to encourage their rehabilitation, there are a host of other ways the money could be used.
For perspective, here's how $1.2 million might be used in a given year:
• Pay for Scribner Place eight more times
• Pave about 20 miles of streets
• Buy a city block of houses and give them away for rehabilitation
• Provide 240 years of education at IU Southeast
• Pour roughly 5 miles of sidewalks
• Award 120 historic rehabilitation grants of $10,000 each
• Subsidize the total annual interest on $18 million in home mortgages at 6.5%
We have or will soon have the money without raising taxes one cent. All we have to do is pick one and pay for it.