Maplecrest Extension in jeopardy?

Kevin Leininger had an article in Saturday’s News-Sentinel about the County’s bridge funding dilema:

Bridge bill could hurt funding for Maplecrest extension County wouldn’t have enough money for both.

A bill that would require Allen County government to maintain all bridges could jeopardize the $55 million Maplecrest Road extension approved last year, county officials warned Friday.

Hoping to avoid that possibility, Commissioner Nelson Peters resurrected an amended version of a plan that would allow the county to continue to maintain 321 bridges by doubling local vehicle taxes – a plan that would generate an additional $3.75 million annually.

A similar proposal went nowhere last year after the administration of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry failed to support it. But Peters said the revised plan includes a “carrot” for reluctant city officials: the ability to keep 35 percent of the additional revenue, or about $730,000 over 14 years. Allen County and other cities and towns would also keep 35 percent which, when added to Fort Wayne’s share, totals about $1.2 million.

[…] A bill pending in the General Assembly would compel the county to use that money to maintain all 351 bridges, even those within Fort Wayne and other jurisdictions.

But if that happens, Peters and fellow Commissioner Linda Bloom warned, there might not be enough money left to begin the Maplecrest project this year as planned. Congress has approved $11 million to extend the road south across the Maumee River to Adams Center Road, but the bridge fund is needed to help pay bonds.

[…] “We hear (from the city), ‘Why even bother?'” Peters added. “But what if we took that approach with criminal justice?” Thanks mostly to the courts and jail, crime-related expenses consume about 70 percent of the county’s budget – much of it due to the arrest, incarceration and trial of Fort Wayne residents.

Deputy Mayor Greg Purcell said city officials did not attend [the latest meeting] because they continue to believe the county is legally obligated to maintain all bridges. Purcell questioned claims the Maplecrest project is being jeopardized and said the city has suggested using some of its federal stimulus money to pay for its bridges so the county won’t have to.

“We’re trying to be collaborative,” said Purcell, noting that the city is willing to discuss Peters’ revised wheel-tax proposal. […]

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