By BRADEN LAMMERS
A long-desired plan, and one of Mayor Mike Moore’s projects highlighted to use tax-increment financing dollars, needs another look, according to the Jeffersonville City Council.
Councilman Dennis Julius asked that an economic-impact study be conducted on the 10th Street corridor before the city commits any more dollars to the project. The city has funding to pay for the widening of 10th Street through property acquisition and utility relocation in 2015.
“I have heard from more people than just the merchants that they can’t wait for 10th Street to be done for all the new business to come in,” Julius said. “And that is so far from the reality of what’s going to happen.”
He pointed to a similar road resurfacing and modernization project that took place on Eastern Boulevard in Clarksville and cost the town $5.2 million.
“[Clarksville] spent a ton of money and it really has not encouraged much new business, if any,” Julius said. “What I would like to do, if we’re going to spend all this money on 10th Street, let’s go the extra step and see what it’s going to take for us to encourage business to come into the 10th Street corridor.”
But Moore said the plan that he has pushed does not need additional studies.
“There is no need to have an impact study,” Moore said. “If anybody has to question why there is reason to do 10th Street they need to have a discussion with the 10th Street business owners. I know there’s 30,000 cars a day [on 10th Street] and I know it’s a nightmare to try and turn into a business.”
The plan for 10th Street is to widen the road to two lanes in each direction, with a center turn lane from Penn Street and Dutch Lane to Reeds Lane. The goal the city had set was to have the road construction complete before the new Ohio River Bridges Project is completed. The bridges project is expected to add traffic to the corridor, as it will be a main pathway between the east-end bridge and Interstate 65 through Jeffersonville. Traffic projections forecasted out to 2033 have shown the number of cars on 10th Street will nearly double.
“You’re going to have a lot of traffic. What’s it going to take to make them stop?” Julius asked.
He said he believes it would take a comprehensive approach of beautification and developing the right business mix in the area to generate economic development, and a study needs to take place to be sure.
Council President Connie Sellers agreed.
“There needs to be some kind of economic-impact study or some kind of plan to draw business there because a new road’s not going to do it,” she said.
As a result, Julius asked that the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission conduct a study before more funding is dedicated.
Councilman Mike Smith added the first few blocks of the 10th Street reconstruction plan fall within the city’s Urban Enterprise Zone and suggested that it could also help pay for the study.
City Council Attorney Scott Lewis was directed to draft a letter making the request, which will be presented to the council before it is sent to the redevelopment commission and UEZ.
CREDIT LIMIT CUT
Jeffersonville city employees have fewer credit cards to use.
Lewis introduced a revised credit card policy Monday. It was approved on its first reading at the July 1 Jeffersonville City Council meeting.
Calls to update the credit card ordinance have been coming since May after concerns were raised about claims that were not being submitted with an itemized receipt. An executive order was signed by Moore in April to stop nontravel meals or business meals being expensed to the city.
The most significant change to the credit card policy is the number of credit cards that are issued within the city. The ordinance cut the number of cards in half, from 26 to 13.
Other changes the new ordinance would make in the old city credit card police would be that all credit cards would be held in the controller’s office and the person or department head authorized to use the card would fill out a purchase order to be able to use the card.
Lewis said the only changes made to the ordinance previously presented was that a restriction on per diem purchases be set at $50 per day, per person, and that a credit card must be returned within 72 hours of being checked out from the controller’s office.
The council asked City Controller Amy Deering if there were any additional concerns that she may have about the new ordinance.
“My concern is just that, if someone wants to use it immediately, we can’t get them a [purchase order] timely, causing delays,” she said.
Deering explained that purchase orders currently go through the city’s public works department and a purchase order is required for items costing more than $1,000. She added that the process should be sped up when a new accounting software system goes online in the fourth quarter of the year.
When the new system is in place, it will allow the departments to put in a purchase order. The levels of approval for the purchase orders have yet to be determined and how quickly the approvals will be able to be granted is still unknown.
But according to several council members, purchases can still be made on the credit card before an order is approved.
“Ultimately, the decision of the purchase goes to the person holding the card,” Julius said. “If it’s a frivolous purchase they’re going to have to pay for it.”