News and Tribune

Clark County

February 21, 2013

Jeffersonville out on toll fight

Tourism Bureau and Clarksville approve amended interlocal agreement

JEFFERSONVILLE — An interlocal agreement that would pledge funds to fight tolling on the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project has one fewer participant.

An interlocal agreement was approved last month between Clarksville and the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau to pay $10,000 each to fight tolling on the Interstate 65 bridges over the Ohio River. The Jeffersonville City Council agreed to allow their attorney, Scott Lewis, to seek an interlocal agreement with the tourism bureau, but stopped short of approving $10,000 to go toward the effort.

According to several city council members, the issue has never come back to the council and at the tourism bureau meeting Wednesday, the board declared Jeffersonville’s involvement dead.

“Jeffersonville, apparently, is not going to participate,” said tourism bureau Attorney Jack Vissing.

When the interlocal agreement was originally presented to the city council, concerns were offered about whether or not public monies could go toward a private nonprofit entity heading up the suit — Organization for a Better Southern Indiana.

An amendment to the interlocal agreement broadened the scope of how the entities can use the money to fight tolls on the newly planned and existing I-65 bridges.

According to the interlocal agreement, the $20,000 total will “be disbursed for the purpose of funding opposition to tolling.” However, language remained that would allow the money to be used to help pay for a lawsuit. The interlocal agreement would also designate the tourism bureau as the entity that would hold, and disburse, the funding.

“I explained [to the Jeffersonville council] that there is a legal way [the interlocal agreement] can be done, but they’re just not interested in pursuing it,” Lewis said. “There’s not been a majority of the city council willing to move forward with that from their point-of-view.”

Jeffersonville Councilman Dennis Julius, who originally presented the proposal for the city to pledge the money, agreed council support had dried up.

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