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Official questions delays in completion of projects



Published: Sat, January 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The delay is preventing the state from funding some local projects, a state official said.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- State officials are expressing concern that several local communities have not completed state-funded road and sewer projects on time.

Rob White, a program representative and loan officer for the Ohio Public Works Commission, said that as of Nov. 30, 41 Mahoning and Trumbull county communities had missed deadlines for completing projects. White said that number "has to be one of the highest in the state."

On Friday, some local officials were asked to explain the delay to White and the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments' District 6 Public Works Integrating Committee. The committee is responsible for making funding recommendations to the Ohio Public Works Commission.

Some officials said they had completed their projects and sent the paperwork to the state after Nov. 30. Others said they had asked the state for an extension.

Canfield Township: Among the projects that have been delayed is the proposed installation of a waterline on Gibson Road in Canfield Township. The project, which was scheduled to be complete last year, is slated to receive $230,253 in state funds.

Township Road Supervisor Gary Cook told the committee that the project has been delayed by litigation. In October, a visiting judge ruled in favor of a group of Gibson Road residents who had filed a lawsuit to prevent the installation of the waterline.

The trustees have appealed the decision.

White said he feels the trustees should abandon the state funding for the project until after the final decision in the lawsuit. Trustee Paul Moracco, however, said, "there's no way we're going to abandon the project."

Another local project which was slated to be complete last year was the installation of a sanitary sewer on Sawmill Run Road in the city of Canfield. City Manager Charles Tieche said he would ask for an extension for the project, which was slated to receive about $500,000 in state funding.

Tieche said the project was delayed so that city officials could ensure that the installation of the sewer met Ohio Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

White said the public works commission is worried about being penalized by the IRS because of the delays. He the IRS could penalize the commission for keeping bonds issued to pay for the projects in the bank for an extended period of time.

The bonds are issued as soon as the commission approves the projects, White said.

Youngstown: White added that the delay also is preventing the commission from funding local projects like the Kirkmere Creek project in Youngstown. The commission agreed to help fund the project last year with a $1.45 million grant.

The commission did not have enough money to fund the grant at the time. White said that the commission expected to receive money for the grant from other projects that were completed under budget.

Don Vitullo, Eastgate's director of special projects, said the integrating committee typically recommends that the public works commission fund more local projects than it can immediately afford. The extra money comes from projects that are completed under budget, he said.

hill@vindy.com




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