By Sadie Hunter
For more than two decades, Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger has addressed the community annually with his State of the County address.
The Noblesville Chamber of Commerce again hosted the event as part of its monthly luncheon series on Jan. 25 at Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville. Chamber President and CEO Bob DuBois said the event sold out with 235 guests.
This year, Dillinger spoke for less than 30 minutes, rounding up the successes of 2016 and highlighting some of the county’s upcoming projects for 2017, which included:
“We have about $38 million in the general fund and about $13 million in the rainy day fund,” Dillinger said. “So, we’re sitting on about $51 million. We are probably the most solvent county in Indiana … very honestly that’s largely due to our county council, which is in charge of that.”
IND. 37 PROJECT
“We are in process of redoing all of those intersections very much like Keystone, from 126th Street to, ultimately, State Road 32,” Dillinger said.
The project would be a complete overhaul of Ind. 37 through Fishers (Phase I) and Noblesville (Phase II), which will run the highway underneath elevated, dog-bone style roundabouts at each cross street – 126th, 131st, 135th, 141st and 145th in Fishers and Greenfield Avenue, Town and Country Boulevard, Pleasant Street and Ind. 32/38 in Noblesville.
Dillinger said Phase I would cost approximately $115 million. The environmental study on Phase I has been completed. Right-of-way and land acquisition will begin in April. Dillinger said the likely first two intersections to be constructed would be 131st and 141st Streets and would be complete by 2019.
GOVERNMENT CENTER EXPANSION
“(The Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center) was built in 1992, and it was projected to last 20 years. It’s already lasted 25,” Dillinger said. “With the county going at the pace it has … we need to expand. We’re exploring several options, but we have not settled on any of them yet. It will be anywhere from 78,000 to 100,000 square feet. We will be consolidating a lot of the offices that need to be integrated that are currently housed in the old courthouse – the auditor, the assessor, the treasurer and the recorder.”
Dillinger said those offices would most likely be located on the first floor, the courts would be on the second floor and the third floor wouldn’t be defined but would change as the offices grow into it.
“It has not been decided what we’re going to put back into the old courthouse,” Dillinger said. “It could be the prosecutor’s office. It could be probation. It could be civic organizations.”
“I’ve been taking about this for 14 years, but Noblesville finally finished the north side, and the county finished the south side, and now we’re getting ready to do the part that I was most interested in, which was the Riverwalk behind the government center,” Dillinger said. “This is an additional pedestrian crossing … Construction is underway. We broke ground this fall, and this project should be finished by 2018.”
“People don’t think much of tourism in Hamilton County,” Dillinger said. “The economic impact for tourism in Hamilton County is over $613 million a year.”
The following tourism statistics reflect 2015 and run one year behind:
- Jobs supported – More than 13,000
- Tax revenue – Nearly $100 million
- Annual growth (2015) – 11.9 percent (State of Indiana’s rate was 3.3 percent.)
JAIL, CORRECTIONAL CAMPUS & JUVENILE CENTER
“We have a jail capacity at around 294 (inmates). We are running now at as much as 400,” Dillinger said. “That is not a good thing. It creates a lot of safety concerns.”
Dillinger said the likely solution to overcrowding at the jail would be to relocate female prisoners to the underutilized juvenile detention center, which currently can house up to 78 juveniles but only regularly houses 8 to 13. Dillinger said juveniles would be relocated to the former juvenile facility, which is currently being remodeled.