Last week, Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore provided an update on various city issues, including future infrastructure projects, spending money from the American Rescue Plan and more at a business luncheon hosted by the Kokomo Chamber of Commerce. Greater Kokomo.
Here are the highlights:
The city tackled three major infrastructure projects this year: the Center Road, Markland Avenue and Park Avenue reconstructions, the last of which is still ongoing.
Moore said the city has a handful of major infrastructure projects planned for 2023-24. They include:
- Road reconstruction of East Hoffer Street between Indiana 931 and South Locke Street. Moore did not elaborate on the project, but said the plan was to make that stretch of road more “user-friendly.”
- Reconstruct the intersection of West Jefferson Street and North Washington Street to reinstate dedicated left turn lanes on West Jefferson Street. Dedicated left turns used to exist on Jefferson, but were eliminated due to the previous city administration’s focus on road diets to reduce vehicle speeds and encourage safer pedestrian traffic. The result of that change has been more street parking, but more congestion on Jefferson Street, as cars now have to wait behind left-turning vehicles. Moore said the city has received “a lot of calls” for backup at the intersection.
- Widen South Webster Street south of West Alto Road by narrowing the islands and installing curbs on the islands. Moore said this change was also the result of “a lot of feedback, comments and concerns” from the community.
American rescue plan
The city received more than $19 million as part of the American Rescue Plan. So far, Moore said, the city has spent or allocated nearly $11 million of that, including $1,056,314 for quality of life projects, $1,197,636 for quality of place projects and $8,734,543 for infrastructure.
Expenses included donating money to Ivy Tech Kokomo’s 4.0 lab, awarding a grant to the Family Service Association’s Hard-to-Home program, installing upper nets in Championship Park, upgrading restrooms in Highland Park so they can be open year-round, building a pump crawl and installing restrooms in Northwest Park in what is now the press box, and converting what used to be a gravel lot near Kokomo Municipal Stadium into a parking lot for concrete.
The city also allocated ARP money to finish road reconstruction projects on Center Road and Markland Avenue. Moore said that inflation “has kicked us in the teeth several times,” so money was needed to finish those projects. The ARP money will also go toward a storm sewer improvement project on East Boulevard Street near the Kokomo Smelter Plant to help mitigate flooding there during heavy rains.
Even with inflation, increased staffing in the police and fire departments, and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Kokomo still has a healthy cash balance.
The city projects that it will end 2022 with approximately $26 million in cash balance. The city’s year-end cash balance has held steady in recent years, hovering around $20 million.
“We remain fiscally responsible to build up those cash balances we need to help when needed and enable us to deliver a high level of government services that everyone expects and deserves,” Moore said.