Column: Purposeful coordination needed between councils

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Commentary by Mark Hall

For the last several years, and long before deciding to run for office, I watched all the Noblesville and Hamilton County elected officials in action.

I listened to speeches and read what they wrote. I watched how they served, watched votes and then compared it to what was said. This column isn’t about what I observed; rather, it’s about what I didn’t see and how we can improve the overall local government of Noblesville in a real and meaningful way.

As citizens of Noblesville, we have local city government led by the mayor and the Common Council, comprised of six district and three at-large council members. We have local Hamilton County government led by three county commissioners and the Hamilton County Council comprised of four district and three at-large council members.

What we don’t yet see is purposeful coordination between the two councils. The two local governing bodies, whose decisions impact life in Noblesville significantly, don’t talk much. With tens of millions of dollars on the table, it’s time for the Noblesville Common Council to send a member to represent our city and work with the Hamilton County Council to jointly address the challenges faced by the citizenry of Noblesville. It’s a simple idea whose time has come.

According to Hamilton County Council members, no city in the county sends a local government representative as a liaison and to represent their individual city’s interests in the county government. It is a certainty that the executive branches of city and county government communicate; however, the elected officials who approve or disapprove spending (the respective councils) don’t have direct, purposeful or official communication channels. Noblesville can lead the way by putting our own advocate as the city’s liaison to the Hamilton County Council. I propose that advocate be a member of the Noblesville Common Council.

Rick McKinney, who serves as an at-large member on the Hamilton County Council, responds to the idea this way: “Purposeful coordination between the city and county councils helps all our constituents.” He continued by saying, “The county major bridge budget is largely available to Noblesville given its proximity to the White River.  It would serve the people of Noblesville well to have a solid city and county council partnership that can coordinate efforts to make government projects more efficient and cost effective”.

As a candidate for Noblesville Common Council, my research reveals a few projects that can greatly benefit by regular representation of Noblesville’s interests at the county financial approval level. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list but more a representative sample of projects that have big impacts on our city.

  • Bridges in Noblesville are paid for by the county but the roads leading to the bridges are paid for by the city. Any new bridge associated with the Pleasant Street expansion will require purposeful coordination and negotiation with the county council. Bridge renovation for Logan street or upgrades to other Noblesville bridges will require the county council’s cooperation, funding and planning assistance.
  • The intersection at 146th and Allisonville is under consideration for major renovation. Who will incur the estimated $36 million expense and who will advocate for Noblesville as the county council evaluates and puts plans in place?
  • Currently, 911 fees are paid by individual cities. Will, or should, these fees be replaced by a new income tax in the future?  If yes, what should the city do with the money freed up from this annual expense?
  • Where will the new Noblesville Police Dept. headquarters building be located? Can we partner with the county to make this a quicker and better reality for our first responders?
  • County-owned property in Noblesville doesn’t increase Noblesville’s tax revenue. Let’s work together to turn some of the county-owned property from zero tax base into revenue generating.
  • State Road 37 — where will the estimated $12 million for Noblesville’s portion of the construction expense come from? Noblesville is in part responsible for the road construction from north of 146th St. to Ind. 32.

The administration that we elect in 2019 will take on not only the immediate, everyday challenges, but also the items above which will require planning and additional funding not currently available. It will need and deserve our support and encouragement. At the same time, the new administration must be mindful of, and have an eye toward, cooperation with the Hamilton County Council and state government.

Read more at youarecurrent.com.

Mark Hall is a candidate for the Noblesville Common Council District 1 seat. Learn more at markfhall.com.


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