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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 4/29/2014

Issue 1 means critical funding for Lucas County capital projects

The jobs and local improvements that Issue 1 will create are vital to Ohio’s future prosperity

BY KEITH G. EARLEY
LUCAS COUNTY ENGINEER.

State Issue 1 on the May 6 ballot will renew and expand Ohio’s program of road, bridge, water, and sewer improvements by local governments. Voter approval of the ballot proposal is critical to Lucas County’s economic heath and quality of life.

Issue 1 authorizes $1.875 billion in infrastructure aid to local governments over 10 years. The State Capital Improvements Program (SCIP) has created tens of thousands of jobs statewide, and would generate at least 35,000 more if voters renew it.

Approval of Issue 1 will not increase taxes. It simply authorizes the state to issue bonds that will generate new revenue by helping to expand our job base statewide.

Money to repay Issue 1 is already built into planning for future state budgets. Ohio’s high financial rating makes possible the renewal of one of our state’s most successful programs.

As a county engineer for more than 30 years, I have seen the tremendous positive impact SCIP has had on improving local infrastructure. Practically every Ohio county, city, village, and township is struggling to maintain the condition of its infrastructure. The loss of this revenue would be devastating.

Lucas County has received $181 million from SCIP since it began 27 years ago. This money has allowed county officials to complete more than $600 million in improvements — nearly 400 projects in every part of the county. Some of the notable projects that have been completed with help from SCIP funding include:

● Renovation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge ($28 million)

● Replacement of the Summit Street Bridge over the Ottawa River ($5 million)

● Improvements to the Maumee River and Bay View wastewater treatment plants ($83 million)

● Improvements to the Oregon water treatment plant ($19 million)

● Improvements to Byrne Road ($15 million)

● Improvements to Jerusalem Township’s sanitary sewer system ($11 million)

This year, construction will begin on the $28 million McCord Road underpass project, using $3.7 million of SCIP money allocated to the Village of Holland. Next year, $1.1 million in SCIP money will be applied to a $73.5 million upgrade of Toledo’s Ottawa River south storage basin.

By providing money to improve local infrastructure, SCIP reduces the amount of local tax dollars that are needed. Grants cover as much as 90 percent of the cost of infrastructure repair or replacement projects, and as much as half of the cost of new or expansion projects. Local public agencies could not provide the required nonfederal share without SCIP.

The Lucas County Board of Commissioners is part of Issue 1’s broad, bipartisan coalition of supporters, which also includes mayors, state and local lawmakers, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and business and labor leaders. All agree that the local improvements and jobs that Issue 1 will create are vital to Ohio’s future prosperity.

Issue 1 is critical to our local economy. It is cost-effective without increasing taxes. A strong public works program improves the standard of living, safety, and quality of life for all of us.

I will vote for State Issue 1 on May 6. I encourage my fellow Lucas County citizens to vote yes on Issue 1, to help ensure strong Ohio communities.



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