Hogsett asks councilors to approve $14 million to combat potholes

Pothole located on city's north side. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Joe Hogsett is asking the City-County Council give him the green light to spend $14 million in city funds to combat the pothole problem.

City leaders said $13 million of that would come from what’s left of the city’s Rainy Day Fund of cash on reserve. The mayor said his plan won’t hamper his other projects or budget because the money’s not dedicated to anything.

“In my car, I had to have a wheel that was bent. I asked the auto repair guy, ‘How’d that happen?'” Hogsett said. “He said, ‘Well, I think you know the answer.'”

Hogsett said it could take years and more than $1 billion to make Indianapolis roads “adequate.” He admits his $14 million request won’t fix the problem but said it will help.

“This is an important, long-term start,” Hogsett said.

The mayor said he plans to use the money this year for patching and resurfacing. The city also declared an emergency this week — a move that, according to Hogsett, will allow the Department of Public Works (DPW) to expand by working with multiple contractors starting next week. The mayor’s team gave packets of information to reporters Friday showing how crews plan to patch not just potholes but entire strips of roads — a process called “strip patching.”

The city’s already dedicated $88 million dollars to the roads this year. Earlier this week, the city announced more than 100 projects that Public Works will tackle this year into next.

Hogsett is asking councilors to approve his $14 million request at their March 12 meeting. Council President Vop Osili said he supports the plan.

Councillor Scott Kreider said he’s waiting to learn more details and “it’s good to see they’re actually doing something.”

Republican Minority Leader Mike McQuillen said he plans on voting “yes” if all the presented numbers make sense.

The mayor is blaming the potholes on decades of neglect and weather fluctuations that are beating up the roads.

“We will not rest until our roads are restored,” Hogsett said.

The $14 million figure includes $1 million in Public Works money that is not currently dedicated to any infrastructure projects. The mayor said he instructed Public Works to “turn over the couch cushions” and find any extra money that could be used and that’s what the department found.

Hogsett said he refused to raise Marion County taxes to fix the problem. He said he is open to a long-term discussion at the Statehouse about whether there are better ways to distribute income taxes in Marion and surrounding counties.