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May 1, 2013

New Albany paving priorities, request for info leads to debate


Politics and paving were intertwined in a work-session discussion that led to one New Albany City Council member leaving the meeting less than 10 minutes after it began. 

With the proposal of bonding $5 million in paving all but off the table, the council met Monday to deliberate how to resurface city streets using existing funds. 

A few minutes into the discussion, Street Department Commissioner Mickey Thompson provided council members with a preliminary list of roads that may be paved this year due to their condition. 

Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti asked if the council would receive a list of worn streets in need of resurfacing based on district, to which Coffey objected. 

“We’re not going to do this by district,” Coffey said to Benedetti. 

Coffey favored footing a paving campaign with a $5 million bond, however, borrowing money to finance resurfacing wasn’t a proposal that received much support from the rest of the council. 

Since the council will likely spend $2 million of Economic Development Income Tax, or EDIT, funds on paving this year instead of bonding, Coffey said the streets that get resurfaced should be determined by “experts” such as Thompson. 

Council members shouldn’t attempt to garner paving projects for their districts in lieu of resurfacing a street in disrepair in another area of the city, Coffey continued. 

Benedetti — who represents District 5 — told Coffey another legislator can’t control what information she receives. 

“I can ask for the information I want,” she said. 

A few minutes later and less than 10 minutes into the work session, Benedetti collected her paperwork and left the meeting. 

On her way out, she submitted a written request for a road paving breakdown by district. 

In a phone interview Tuesday, she said she wasn’t attempting to steer more paving dollars to her district. 

“It’s not being political, it’s so everybody understands and can see what’s going on in each district,” Benedetti said of why she wanted a paving  recommendation list based on districts. “The whole point of the conversation was, if I ask for something as a legislator, I should be able to get that information.” 

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