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Greater Ohio Policy Center Unveils 2018 Public Policy Platform

The past decade has seen considerable progress as job growth has remained steady and communities across the state have experienced promising comebacks. 

Ohio EPA Releases Intended Use Plan for 2018 Water Pollution Control Loan Fund

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By Jon Honeck, Ph.D. Senior Policy Fellow

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) has released its Draft Program Management Plan for the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) for program year 2018.  The WPCLF is the main source of funding for the design and construction of publicly-owned wastewater and stormwater control projects in Ohio.  The WPCLF is a “revolving” loan fund that allows repaid funds to be loaned out again to new borrowers. The plan calls for the Fund to make a total of $520 million in loans in 2018, a level below that of recent years.   

The US EPA provides annual funding to support states water infrastructure revolving loan funds.  The subsidy allows the WPCLF to lend at below-market interest rates and to provide a limited number of projects with principal forgiveness.  For example, the October 2017, standard discount rate on a twenty-year loan is 1.81%.  Small communities with populations below 10,000 that also meet economic hardship criteria can receive interest rates of 1% or less.   The plan reserves up to $29.9 million for principal forgiveness to address critical needs of economic hardship areas with combined sewer overflow needs or failing home sewage treatment systems.

OEPA extends a zero percent interest rate to borrowers with regionalization projects that connect communities that are served by failing septic systems or wastewater treatment facilities that are otherwise incapable of meeting Clean Water Act requirements.  Regionalization of smaller water systems is a crucial way to meet regulatory requirements and control costs. 

Greater Ohio Policy Center is working with the Ohio Water Development Authority, Ohio EPA, and other water infrastructure stakeholders in the Small Communities Environmental Infrastructure Group (SCEIG) to find ways to promote shared services and partnering among small communities. 

A ranked list of priority projects is published along with the plan.  Interested parties can comment on the WPCLF plan at a public hearing on November 20, 2017.  For more information, please see the Ohio EPA website.

GOPC Executive Director Visits with Ohio Congressional Leaders

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GOPC Executive Director, Alison Goebel, met with staff for Congressman Tiberi and Congressman Turner to urge them to maintain critical community revitalization programs in the forthcoming federal budget.  Goebel was one of thirty leaders participating in a Hill Day for smart growth groups from around the country

Programs that have been critical to the stabilization and revitalization of Ohio’s small and large communities are under threat, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and Community Development Block Grant funding (CDBG) and HOME dollars, which support everything from greening programs to affordable housing preservation.  TIGER grants, the funding source for a number of innovative transportation projects that make Ohio’s communities more attractive and competitive, are also under threat. 

Staff in Congressman Tiberi’s office and Congressman Turner’s office both acknowledged the importance of these programs to their districts and the entire state of Ohio. 

With more than 45 congressional visits scheduled, GOPC and its peer organizations are hopeful that these invaluable programs remain in place moving forward.