Coats: Planned reservoir can't rely on fed money

ANDERSON, Ind. - U.S. Sen. Dan Coats says planners of a proposed central Indiana reservoir shouldn't look to the federal government for help in financing the $450 million project because federal funding is shrinking.

The Indiana Republican said during a Thursday visit to Anderson that the Mounds Lake Reservoir's proponents should "plan as if there weren't federal funds available" for their proposal to dam the West Fork of the White River to create a 2,100-acre reservoir.

Coats said he's been telling officials around the state that if they have projects that require a lot of federal funding, those dollars simply won't be available in the future, The Herald Bulletin reported.

"You can't base infrastructure projects on federal dollars," he said. "The pot of money is declining every year because of entitlement spending."

Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development, said construction of the reservoir would have to come from revenues generated by the project. But he said local officials will seek federal grants and money to offset construction costs for the proposed reservoir between Anderson and Muncie.

"We're looking at 10 different federal budget cycles," Sparks said.

But Coats said projections indicate 93 percent of future federal revenues will go toward entitlement programs, leaving 7 percent for defense, health and education.

"Plan as if there weren't federal funds available," he said.

Coats noted that a proposed new interstate around Chicago, the 47-mile Illiana Expressway, is being funded by Illinois and Indiana through a public/private partnership.

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