Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Latest ARP proposal has compromises

·2 min read

Jul. 23—All government is founded on compromise and barter.

Philosopher Edmund Burke penned those words many years ago, but they still apply today when it comes to governing at the local, state and national levels.

Unfortunately, there is a decided lack of that spirit in Congress.

In the Hoosier State, because the Republican Party has super majorities in both chambers of the Legislature and control of the governor's office, the views of the minority Democrats are largely ignored.

This coming week, the Anderson City Council is expected to vote on how to spend $23.1 million in American Rescue Plan funds for the foreseeable future.

Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. and the Democratic majority on the city council have been discussing Broderick's proposal since the first of the year.

Up until now, none of the funding has been spent.

While Anderson is at a stalemate on how to use the funds, many other Indiana communities have moved forward with plans.

A three-member committee consisting of council members Rebecca Crumes, Ollie H. Dixon and Jon Bell has been discussing the mayor's proposal for several months.

Three different demands were made by the council members.

Crumes wanted an appeal process included for those local organizations that were denied funding. Dixon wanted COVID-19 premium pay increased for workers at the city's wastewater treatment facility. Bell wanted to remove an incentive for city workers to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

Broderick's latest proposal was a direct response to those three requests.

Last week, Councilman Ty Bibbs and a majority of the council agreed to make Broderick's proposal to spend $9 million of the ARP fund on the water utility a separate vote.

Once again Broderick made the compromise to have the $9 million for infrastructure considered through a separate ordinance.

Bibbs maintains that Anderson can receive a share of federal infrastructure dollars coming to Indiana.

The problem is that there is only so much money available. It's a competitive process in which Anderson will compete with other communities for a share of the funds.

It's possible that most — if not all — of the money that Anderson receives might have to be repaid.

Nobody can disagree that local units of government should attempt to procure as much money as possible through state and federal grants.

But it's not an easy process. For example, Madison County had to apply numerous times for federal funds for the new Eisenhower bridge.

Perhaps the council can agree to compromise with Broderick on the infrastructure funding by maintaining the $9 million in the proposal and applying for grants.

Compromises by city official will only benefit the community.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.