PORT JEFFERSON – Shelby County township trustees and fiscal officers heard a plea for one township’s leadership to serve as an administrative agency to apply for 2019 state funds for local infrastructure projects. At hand is an estimated $700,000 that may be on the table for local improvements.
On Monday, County Engineer Bob Geuy explained the program to group of some 100 people gathered for the Shelby County Township Trustees Association meeting at Hussy’s Restaurant.
Geuy said the funds are available due to the May 6, 2014, passage of State Issue 1. Voters gave state legislators permission to sell approximately $150 million in bonds annually for 10 years to improve existing infrastructure statewide. The Shelby County portion of those funds is expected to be $700,000.
Administered through the Ohio Public Works Commission, the filing deadline is in October, and Geuy needs a single township to serve as the lead for all townships, cities, county, villages, to apply for funds in their district.
Agencies can apply for up to 90 percent funding for a single project. However, the likelihood of being approved is much better if the government bodies agree to a 50-50 match with the grant, he said. If approved, the funds would first become available on July 1, 2019.
The bulk of the meeting saw political positioning on issues and candidates take place.
County Commissioner Julie Ehemann distributed printed sample communication styles to further the effort to pass legislation to end prevailing wage requirements.
Ehemann said 70 to 80 percent of local contractors do not bid on government projects due to the law that forces them to pay higher wages as in large municipalities. She said major county construction projects are not receiving a wide variety of bids due to the requirement.
The handouts had prepared wording for trustees to use when urging legislators to pass House Bill 163 and Senate Bill 72.
Two Republicans vying for the 84th District State Representative in the May 6 primary were on hand to talk about issues that need bettered. Travis Faber, of Celina, who was the guest speaker, and Aaron Heilers of Anna, spoke to the crowd.
Heilers said he felt it’s important for someone who understands the importance of local agriculture needs to be representing the district. He added that faith, family, and hard work were “the connectors” to their representatives.
“Problems are best solved locally,” Heilers said.
Faber said the reason local representation is important is because they are the first point of contact. Pointing to the crowd, he stated they have more interaction with citizens than any state politician.
He stated that local government officials are the “Marine Corps” of politicians because they are always asked to do more for less funding. He added the funds being spent is by politicians who are aware that money belongs to the people they represent.
Republican Justin Griffis, of Sidney, is a candidate for the 85th District State Representative seat currently held by Nino Vitale, R-Urbana.
Griffis feels Vitale has become detached from Shelby County since his first bid for office. He added that Vitale “is not getting the job done.”
He contended that if Shelby County is going to get the best state representation then it needs to have someone from the county in the seat. He added that he is seeking the position because “local government is the most efficient form of government”.
Also, officers discussed the Clean Up Day set for April 7 in Clinton and Loramie townships. Details of a fish fry set for March 23 at the Shelby County Fairgrounds were reviewed.
The next association meeting is set for April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Franklin Township Building.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.