Plain City seeks funding for road and utility projects

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Despite “some disappointing news” regarding funding, Plain City officials said portions of projects in the northeast quadrant of the village will still move forward.
Village Administrator Nathan Cahall told council during Monday’s meeting that improvements on Noteman Road and Shepper, Converse and North Avenues will not receive funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
“Our project ran into a buzzsaw of competition,” he said.
Plain City applied for approximately $240,000 in funding of what is expected to be a $487,000 project. The funding would have been used for roadwork and water line replacement in the area.
Cahall said Wednesday morning that OPWC only approved funding for 24 projects in Plain City’s entire district, which includes Madison, Union, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Miami, Darke and Preble counties.
He noted that the proposed improvements to the village did not make it through the first round of considerations by OPWC.
Cahall said applications are “all about timing” and this year happened to see a number of “very large ticket projects” throughout the district.
There is still a small amount of funding available, but Cahall said it is unlikely the village is awarded.
He said Plain City and Madison County officials are considering applying for the funds set aside specifically for small governments by OPWC.
The administrator said OPWC judges applications based in part on the percentage of the project municipalities are asking the agency to fund. He said a request for 100% of funding would not score as well as an application for partial funding.
“They know that certain small jurisdictions may not be able to fund that 50, 60, 70% of a project,” Cahall said.
To avoid creating a “caste system” in which larger municipalities are favored, Cahall said some monies are set aside solely for small governments.
However, only $1.5 to $2 million is available this year through this fund.
Cahall said Plain City is about 14th “in the pecking order.” He said the projects in front of the village at least double, if not triple, the amount of available funding.
“I’m doubtful that we get funded,” he said.
Although the rejection was “disappointing,” Cahall said the project is still on track to move forward.
He noted that the village planned from the start to complete the project in phases. The funding was modeled around a gradual completion plan.
Aside from OPWC funding, Cahall said the village also applied for loan funding through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Ohio EPA funding would cover sanitary and storm sewer line improvements and replacements.
Cahall has previously said that between 20-25% of the content in the village’s storm sewer lines makes its way to the Noteman line.
It is currently only an 8-inch line and needs to be expanded to at least 16-inches from Noteman to Darby Creek.
Along with other related improvements, the engineering and construction costs are expected to total approximately $750,000.
Cahall said the loan rate through Ohio EPA is currently close to 0%.
While the loan application is still pending, he said he doesn’t foresee any issues.
“I personally anticipate it’ll go through,” Cahall said.
He said his goal is that Ohio EPA will release its loan package close to the end of the first quarter and the village will be able to send the project out to bid during the summer.
Cahall said the sanitary and storm sewer line replacements can be completed without requiring “a lot of rework” when the roadwork and water lines projects are done in the future.
He said they entail “minimal roadway disturbance” and the village will not need to tear up roads entirely, then do so again in a couple years.
Moving forward, Cahall said village staff is reviewing the score their application received from OPWC to see how it can be approved in the future. He noted that projects are given extra points if they were denied funding in previous years.
Cahall said Plain City may also consider applying for loan funding rather than a grant from OPWC next year, depending on how village finances look midway through 2021.



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