SCIP Renewal ‘Exact’ly what Ohio’s Local Infrastructure Needs

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Like many Ohioans looking beyond January’s polar vortex, the state’s local infrastructure officials are also awaiting the month of May –Tuesday, May 6 to be exact.

Metal Highway Bridge

Quick work by the Ohio Legislature – 34 days, including the Christmas break, to be exact – has placed State Joint Resolution (SJR) 6 on the May ballot, which will ask Ohio voters to renew the State Capital Improvement Program (SCIP). Created in 1987, SCIP utilizes Ohio’s General Revenue Fund as debt support to provide general obligation bonds for the state’s counties, cities, villages, townships and water and sanitary districts to make improvements to their infrastructure systems.

The money is issued through the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC).

In describing SCIP, Shelby County Engineer Robert Geuy, P.E., P.S., said, “It has helped many local governments in the repair and upkeep of their infrastructure that otherwise could not and would not have been accomplished.” In the 27 years that the program has been around, SCIP has awarded $4.2 billion for improvements to roads, bridges, culverts, water supply systems, wastewater systems, storm water collection systems and solid waste disposal facilities – more than 11,500 projects, to be exact.

This is the fourth time Ohio voters are being asked to approve SCIP funding. It was previously approved in 1987, 1995 and 2005 by an average consensus of 62.3 percent of the vote. This year’s third renewal of the infrastructure improvement program is asking for an increase in the bonding levels from the current $150 million a year to $175 million annually for the first five years (state fiscal years 2016-2020) and $200 million annually for the remaining five years (SFY 2020-2025).

The ballot’s 10-year, nearly $1.9 billion in SCIP funding is much needed by local officials, as Geuy said that Ohio’s counties, townships and municipalities maintain nearly 85 percent of all centerline road miles in the state. The 2014 president of the County Engineer’s Association of Ohio Inc. added that 60 percent of Ohio’s nearly 45,000 public bridges are also maintained at the local level. “It has helped many local governments in the repair and upkeep of their infrastructure that otherwise could not and would not have been accomplished.”

As with any program that awards infrastructure funding at the local level, to be rewarded SCIP grant money is competitive, as more than 2,400 eligible applicants across the state can apply and use the program. SCIP applicants submit projects, which are scored and selected by 19 district integrating committees.

According to senators Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park), who sponsored SJR 6 in the Ohio Senate, this legislation and ballot measure is exactly what is needed.

Sen. Bacon believes the infrastructure dollars directly benefit local governments and communities, as he points to SCIP’s track record of improving quality of life, ensuring public health, safety and job creation.

“This money is one of the most important investments we can make in our local communities,” Sen. Manning said. “These public works dollars are funneled straight to our local governments to fund the continued upkeep of our bridges, tunnels, roadways and other vital projects that ensure the safety and convenience of every Ohioan.

“The voters have always shown support for the public works program,” Sen. Manning added, “because they see its benefit every day as they travel to work and school.”

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