Some local communities are slow to spend Issue 2 money, according to a state official.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HOWLAND -- Trumbull County's plan to install sanitary sewers on Shannon Road in Girard is so far the Trumbull County project ranked highest for state Issue 2 grant funding next year. The county is asking for a $650,000 Issue 2 grant and a $125,000 Issue 2 loan to help finance the $3 million project.
On Wednesday, the committee charged with ranking applications for the roughly $5.5 million Issue II grants available in Trumbull and Mahoning counties reviewed 70 proposals from Trumbull County.
Grant requests from both counties totaled $16.8 million. The committee, composed of officials from both counties, will review proposals from Mahoning County on Friday.
The committee will then assign scores to all the projects based on "factors of regional importance."
That category is weighted heavily, and will probably determine which projects are ultimately funded, said Rob White, a program representative from the Ohio Public Works Commission, which administers Issue 2 funds.
A proposal to replace culverts and improve drainage on Donley Road in Mesopotamia was the second-highest ranked Trumbull County project.
Criticism for Girard: One of the two projects which tied for third place was the subject of criticism during the meeting. Girard asked for $160,000, to be matched with $40,000 city funds, in order to replace 15 broken fire hydrants. The city has 40 hydrants.
Canfield mayor Charles Tieche, a member of the committee, wondered out loud how so many hydrants could be allowed to go out of service.
"Shouldn't fixing those be part of routine maintenance?" he asked.
Here's the situation: Of concern to the Ohio Public Works Commission is the slow pace at which many previous Issue II grants are being spent. The projects are generally supposed to be completed within two years of funding.
White told the assembled officials Wednesday that only 25 percent of ongoing Issue 2 projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties have reached the point in construction when they draw down money from the state.
Money is lingering in the public works commission's bank accounts, which costs the commission penalties on account of the way the money was raised.
Issue 2 funding is intended to fix immediate problems, he said. If a community is not ready to begin a project, it should put off applying for the money so it is available to others, he said.
"Having the funding sitting in Columbus is not doing anybody any good," White said. "It doesn't address any infrastructure need, any economic development need."
The funds are intended for projects which are ready to be started immediately, he said.