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January 17, 2013

Interlocal agreement passed at tourism board meeting

New leadership chosen

JEFFERSONVILLE — An interlocal agreement with Jeffersonville, Clarksville and the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau received an approval Wednesday to fight tolling on Interstate 65 bridges over the Ohio River.

All three entities pledged $10,000 to go toward an effort against tolls on the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

While the three groups had previously offered the funding related to a potential lawsuit, questions of whether or not public monies could go toward a private nonprofit entity heading up the suit — Organization for a Better Southern Indiana-- caused some concern among the boards.

The interlocal agreement introduced Wednesday broadened the scope of how the entities can use the money to fight tolls on the newly planned Interstate 65 bridge, which will be the northbound span, and the existing Kennedy Bridge, which will be converted into a southbound-only bridge.

According to the interlocal agreement, the $30,000 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 purpose of this agreement is to fight the prospect of tolling in any number of ways, including litigation, and the agreement to retain counsel to file suit if necessary within the confines of the amount of this contribution of $30,000,” according to the agreement.

Clarksville, Jeffersonville and the tourism bureau have all voiced their concerns that tolling on the downtown corridor will have a negative economic affect on Southern Indiana.

“Much of the funding is believed to be unnecessary and [is] for the improvement of what is known as ‘Spaghetti Junction’... in Kentucky and is of minimal value to the people of Indiana,” according to the interlocal agreement. “Having tolls gives an unfair competitive advantage to businesses in Kentucky.”

By signing the agreement, the entities would deposit the $10,000 pledged to go into the tourism bureau’s account. How the money will be spent will remain a joint decision between the three entities. 

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