Cell Tower Leasing Deal Seals Funding for Pence’s Bicentennial Projects

The prospects for Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s signature projects to celebrate the state’s bicentennial are looking up after executive branch officials struck a new agreement with an Ohio-based cell tower leasing company.

Last year, Pence announced several building projects designed to celebrate Hoosier heritage on the state’s 150th anniversary. These included a new building to house the state’s archives, an education center at the Indiana State Library, a new plaza at the Statehouse in Indianapolis and a new inn at Potato Creek State Park.

When Pence proposed the projects, he said their combined $50 million price tag would come from a contract to lease the state’s cell phone towers. But, according to the Indianapolis Star, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency found that contract was insufficient to cover the full cost.

Under the revised deal announced on Sept. 6, Ohio-based Agile Networks will pay the state $50 million up front and a share of revenues over the next 25 years to rent excess space on Indiana’s 341 cellphone towers.

Those yearly revenues are expected to bring in an additional $36 million over the next 25 years, an amount that Pence and state legislators will have to decide how to spend. The contract could also be renewed, yielding even more funds for the state.

State government is currently projected to spend $60 million over the next 50 years to maintain the public-owned towers. Now, however, the state will cut its costs to $27.5 million over that period and Agile will cover the rest.