Gerald Potter, right, speaks to Ada Village Administrator James Meyer and the Ada Community Improvement Corporation during their recent meeting. Potter is the Chairman of the Ohio Public Works Commission District 16 Integrating Committee. (Ada Herald/Megan Watson)
Gerald Potter, right, speaks to Ada Village Administrator James Meyer and the Ada Community Improvement Corporation during their recent meeting. Potter is the Chairman of the Ohio Public Works Commission District 16 Integrating Committee. (Ada Herald/Megan Watson)
ADA — When the Ada CIC met last week they heard from guest speaker Gerald Potter about Issue 1 which will appear on the ballot in May. The ballot language for the proposed amendment reads: State of Ohio Issue 1 - Proposed Constitutional Amendment: To Fund Public Infrastructure Capital Improvements by Permitting the Issuance of General Obligation Bonds.
By passing this Issue, the district that houses Hardin County and seven other counties will receive just under two billion dollars spread across the next 10 years. These funds are used to support a variety of projects throughout the counties with the goal of improving the streets of Ada and many neighboring towns.
Issue 1 authorizes $1.875 billion in infrastructure aid for local governments: $175 million a year for the first five years, then $200 million a year for the next five years. Funds will be provided to local governments to improve local roads, bridges, water treatment facilities and storm and sanitary sewer systems, reducing the amount of local funding needed for these projects.
To date, this program has funded more than 11,500 local projects in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. The program provides grants covering up to 90 percent of the total project costs for infrastructure repair or replacement projects, and up to 50 percent of total cost for new or expansion projects. An objective allocation process ensures that even the smallest communities get their share of funding.
The Issue 1 proposal does not raise taxes. It authorizes the state to issue bonds for important programs, which will generate new revenues for state and local governments by helping expand the job base statewide. Funds to repay Issue 1 are already built into planning for future state budgets, and Ohio’s high financial rating makes renewal and a modest expansion of one of Ohio’s most successful programs possible.
A few of the projects that were funded in Ada by previous Issue 1 monies are East Lima Ave Reconstruction (currently approved), East Lincoln Street Reconstruction (2011), North/South Main Street Improvements (2003), South Main Street Improvements (2004), West Buckeye Ave Reconstruction (2010), West Lima Ave Reconstruction (currently approved), West Lima Ave Reconstruction (2008) and Waste Water Treatment Plant Improvements (2001).
Potter has been a part of Issue 1 since the beginning. He remembers traveling to the first meeting in 1987 and that they were very apprehensive about it.
To his surprise, Issue 1 has the least amount of government interference Potter has ever seen. The process of applying for funding is very simple. All projects are managed through one office to ensure organization and efficacy. Now, 27 years after the first meeting, the system runs like a well-oiled machine.
The district is made up of eight counties. Potter explained how they ensure everyone gets a piece of the pie by placing a cap on individual project amounts to make certain that the funds are spread fairly among the whole district. In addition, small municipalities such as Ada have special funds set aside for them. This helps fund projects in towns big and small.
Issue 1 also has a loan program that has been a huge help in funding projects much faster. It is like a revolving loan without interest.
“What comes in from one loan project goes back out to fund another project,” said Potter. When they are unable to provide grant funds for project, a loan is offered which will often take less time then federal funding in most cases.
In the life of Issue 1, Ada has benefitted from over seven million dollars in project improvement funding.
Opponents of Issue 1 argue that a renewal of the bond will actually cost the state and it’s taxpayers more to pay off than if the projects were completed using local taxes.