State introduces Local Government Innovation FundWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Officials from the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Redevelopment hosted a regional information session on the Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF) at Owens Community College on Jan. 18.
About 100 local government and public officials attended the session about the new program that will provide financial assistance to Ohio government subdivisions for planning and implementing projects that could improve community services.
The program is designed to help create more efficient and effective delivery of government services. It encourages local collaboration by multiple entities on projects to reduce costs.
The LGIF program has $45 million earmarked for local projects with $36 million in revolving loan funds and $9 million for grants up to $100,000 per project application. The funding will begin July 1 with the start of the state’s 2013 fiscal year.
“We’re looking for quality projects more than quantity of projects to fund,” said Thea Walsh, deputy chief of the Office of Redevelopment, who made the presentation.
Walsh said their office will begin accepting applications for grants and loans Feb. 20, with all applications due by March 1. Notifications for the first round will be made in June, she said.
Additional application rounds will take place in the summer, fall and winter of the 2013 fiscal year for grants and loans, Walsh said.
“Any opportunity to provide better services to the public is a plus,” said Anita Lopez, Lucas County auditor. “We will be looking at potential technology projects for possible funding.”
“It’s a great opportunity and could be very relevant to the City of Oregon and the police department,” said Mike Navarre, chief of police for the City of Oregon and former Toledo Police Chief. “Maybe we can collaborate with some other possible partners.”
However, both Lopez and Navarre expressed concern that the grants are limited to $100,000, considering the time and effort involved in applying for them. Both hope that state officials may consider larger grants if there are not enough applications for them.
Lopez and Navarre were disappointed that the LGIF program would not fund reimbursements for service projects already completed. Lopez said the county recently completed a project with the City of Toledo that could have been eligible for such funds.
The LGIF program will provide financial resources for the purchase of capital equipment or new technologies to share between entities or reduce the cost of providing related services. The presentation included one example of a collaboration project for shared services.
The Green Local School District is sharing space and services with the City of Green, which built an 11,000-square-foot addition to house school administration employees. They worked together with Greene County to keep costs down; the collaboration saved $2.58 million.
All applicants must demonstrate a match investment equal to at least 10 percent of the total cost of eligible projects, which may include local, public or private funds during a two-year period. The more the match, the higher rating for each project, Walsh said.
Each project will be scored on numerous criteria with a total of 100 points available. Points will be assigned based upon information provided on the application, she said.
Nyla Potter, loan officer for the Department of Redevelopment, reviewed the loan application policies, procedures and process at the session.
The Local Government Innovation Council, comprised of state officials appointed by the governor, oversees the LGIF program. Christiane Schmenk, director of the Ohio Department of Development, serves as chairperson of the council.
The council is scheduled to meet in Columbus on Jan. 31 to adopt the final methodology for project selection.
The LGIF program was created by the HB 153 budget bill passed in July with amendments made in HB 371 passed in December. Ohio Revised Code 189.01 provides a definition of eligible applicants, evaluation criteria, funding structure, application process and project award criteria.
State Auditor Dave Yost’s office developed a website with a Shared Services Idea Center at www.skinnyohio.gov.
More information about the LGIF program and application process is available at www.development.ohio.gov/urban/LGIF.htm.