Issue 1: Funds for roads, bridges, sewers
Apr 8, 2014 at 9:20 AM
State officials steered an issue that each Ohioan voting this spring should spot. Issue No. 1 on May’s primary ballot asks voters whether they want to support or shoot down a state-funded, Ohio-based public infrastructure initiative. In short, the issue reserves a chunk of money from the state’s budget for water, sewer, bridge and road projects. The issue is not a new tax. Taxes will not increase if the issue is approved. A “yes” vote means people want to approve the issue. A ‘no’ vote means people don’t want to support it. Ottawa County engineer David Brunkhorst and Strong Ohio Communities, an organization advocating for the issue, provided some facts and statements:
Q: What is State Issue No. 1?
A: It’s an issue that, if approved, carves out a specific monetary amount from the state’s budget specifically for infrastructure improvements, including roads, bridges, water lines, sewer pipes and more.
Q: If I vote “yes” will my taxes increase?
A: No. If approved by a majority of voters, the state will reserve about $1.88 billion during the next decade for infrastructure improvements.
Q: If approved, how does this issue help fund projects?
A: By one of two ways:
•Grant: State officials pinpoint certain places where infrastructure upgrades must occur and set aside funds for these projects. Officials gauge where upgrades should occur and give money out to these specific projects. Money for fortifying a bridge, for instance, could receive a grant if it’s highly traveled and has a weak foundation. Local governments receiving this type of grant don’t need to pay back the state.
•No-interest loan: Area officials working for local governments — counties, cities, villages and townships — can compete with one another for state funds by submitting applications for specific projects. State officials then determine which projects merit money the most and dole out funds to certain projects in the form of a 0 percent loan. Officials then make arrangements to pay this money back to the state over a certain period of time.
Q: What happens if the issue gets rejected?
A: The money funnels back into the state’s budget and will most likely be used for some other purpose. Infrastructure deficiencies — roads littered with potholes, bridges set to crumble and sewers not capable of handling waste, for instance — will be further neglected, as most local governments can’t afford to fund these projects at 100 percent of the total cost.
Q: What are some other benefits of voting for the issue?
A: The issue should create an additional 35,000 construction and related jobs during the next decade.
Q: Where will these improvements occur?
A: It’s not known today what projects stand to receive money in the near future.
But consider this: All 88 counties in Ohio have benefited from the program in terms of receiving money to help completely pay off or partially chip away at a specific project’s total cost. Among the beneficiaries are Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties, collectively obtaining almost $150 million.
Q: Why should people vote for the issue?
A: “This provides another avenue of available funding for infrastructure improvements” Brunkhorst said. “It’s also for the health and safety of the community. This money gives us the ability to do substantially more repairs and rehabilitation to our infrastructure”