Let’s Talk Transit

October 20th, 2014

Health Line in Cleveland

ODOT Hosts Five Regional Stakeholder Meetings on the Future of Transit in Ohio

Join the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) at one of five regional stakeholder meetings to help shape a long-term strategy for meeting the needs of Ohio’s transit riders today and in the future.

Trends show there is a definite rise in the need for convenient, affordable public transportation to jobs, medical appointments, shopping and recreational activities. Ohio’s transit agencies are struggling to fund existing service, let alone meet increasing demand. From light rail and bus service in large cities to rural van services, the Ohio Statewide Transit Needs Study is examining existing transit needs and drafting recommendations for better addressing them. ODOT needs your input, comments and ideas!

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2-4 PM
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Board Room
1240 West 6th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2-4 PM
Hancock Family Center
1800 North Blanchard Street
Findlay, OH 45840

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2-4 PM
Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
Scioto Room
111 Liberty Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2-4 PM
Athens Community Center
701 East State Street
Athens, OH 45701

Friday, Oct. 31, 10 AM-12 PM
OhioMeansJobs Building
300 East Silver Street
Lebanon, OH 45036

Unable to attend? All meeting materials will be available online starting Oct. 21 at www.TransitNeedsStudy.ohio.gov. Comments accepted through Nov. 14.

Questions or comments? Email ODOT at Transit.Needs@dot.state.oh.us.

 

GOPC Endorses HB 223

May 27th, 2014

The Policy Committee of the Greater Ohio Policy Center Board of Directors recently voted to endorse HB 223 (130th GA). HB 223 would expedite the foreclosure and transfer of unoccupied, blighted parcels in cities with Housing Courts (Cleveland and Toledo) or Environmental Courts (Columbus/Franklin County).  The bill also allows for allows for property to be sold for less than 2/3 value to certified buyers in county sheriff sales.

HB 223 is sponsored by Representative Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Representative Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff).

This bill has a five year sunset, effectively creating a pilot program that GOPC anticipates will demonstrate great success.

GOPC’s Policy Committee has endorsed this bill because many communities continue to struggle to mitigate the impact of blighted properties in their neighborhoods.  Providing a framework to shorten the foreclosure timeline will help move properties from “limbo” to responsible end users.  In particular, the ability to buy property at less than 2/3 value at sheriff sales, acknowledges the value of sweat equity in turning around neighborhoods and provides a pathway for interested parties to buy and renovate properties for owner occupancy.

For more information on GOPC’s endorsement, please contact Alison D Goebel, Associate Director at agoebel@greaterohio.org.

A Primer on State Issue One

April 28th, 2014

By Raquel Jones, Intern

On May 6th, voters will choose whether or not to renew the state’s program for funding public infrastructure capital improvements by permitting the issuance of general obligation bonds. If renewed, this vote authorizes the state to continue selling bonds (for another 10 years) to fund much-needed improvement projects all over the state, such as construction on local roads, bridges, and water-supply systems.

Since the program was approved by voters via a constitutional amendment in 1987, it has helped to rebuild more than 11,500 local road, bridge, sewer, water and solid-waste projects, in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. The program provides up to 50 percent funding for new construction projects and up to 90 percent for repair-and-replacement projects.

The Ohio Public Works Commission currently allots $150 million each year to this program, however, under the new amendment, the state would increase the size of bonds to provide more money: $175 million in each of the first five years and $200 million in each of the next five years. That is a 39 percent increase in the money that local road and water-supply construction projects currently receive. Furthermore, it is projected that this program would create an estimated 3,500 additional construction and related jobs over the next decade.

The passage of this issue is especially critical at this time since the state’s current authorization to issue bonds against the state’s tax revenue expires in 2015 or whenever the state has maxed out the amount approved in the last bond issue. If this program were to expire, it would cut off a source of money for municipal construction projects and the estimated 35,000 workers employed on the projects.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, local governments, and nonprofits around the state have endorsed Issue 1.  For more information, the Ohio League of Women’s Voters has provided non-partisan, in-depth information here.

GOPC Applauds Transportation Reform in Pennsylvania

February 12th, 2014

The Greater Ohio Policy Center sends its belated congratulation to our smart growth colleague 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania for leading a diverse coalition of stakeholders in successfully advocating for a $2.3 billion state transportation package in Pennsylvania.

In late 2013, Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, signed a bill that was advanced by the Republican-controlled legislature.  Under this transportation funding bill, Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation will:

  • Creates a multi-modal fund that grows from $30 to $144 million over a 5-year period, to which bicycle and pedestrian projects can apply for funding; and sets an annual minimum of $2 million of that fund to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
  • new revenue streams for transit will generate $49 million to $60 million statewide in the current fiscal year and $476 million to $497 million in year five.
  • Funding for repairing deficient bridges and roads

This package is expected create 50,000 new jobs and preserve 12,000 existing jobs, according to the Governor’s office.

Funding for this work will come from the gradual elimination of the limit on the wholesale tax on gasoline, and increased fees on licenses, permits and traffic tickets.

Together, multi-modal advocates, road contractors, business leaders and policymakers made the economic case for this visionary, game-changing budget.  GOPC congratulates all advocates and applauds Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and Governor.

GOPC Testifies on the DataOhio Initiative

January 29th, 2014

On January 29th, Greater Ohio’s Alison Goebel gave interested party testimony on a package of bills that would create the “DataOhio Initiative.”  Introduced by Representatives Duffey (R-Worthington) and Hagan (R-Alliance), the DataOhio Initiative will help local governments standardize information about themselves and develop a clearinghouse where information about local and state governments can be easily located.

GOPC has long expressed concern regarding the lack of standardized data in Ohio.  We believe the DataOhio Initiative will provide the first crucial step to creating the tools local governments and the state need to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions. These decisions should help communities modernize procedures, maximize resources, attract jobs and businesses, and plan for sustainable, prosperous futures.

GOPC is excited about the possibility DataOhio holds to help government officials find underutilized dollars through “apples to apples” comparisons with their peers and the  ability to use the data to systematically uncover opportunities to share services and implement best practices.

  • HB 321’s requirement to de-silo information and make information machine-readable is essential for any data analysis.  The creation of a DataOhio Board ensures there is a face to the Initiative and a resource for participating entities.
  • HB 322’s requirement to use a uniform accounting standard allows communities, researchers, private citizens and funding sources to track performance over time.  More importantly, a mechanism that creates apples to apples comparisons helps identify best practices and opportunities for government efficiencies and cost savings.
  • By gathering and indexing the universe of data available in Ohio, HB 323 will enrich and strengthen research while also saving users time.
  • Last, and perhaps most important, HB 324 assists communities in meeting these requirements.  The cost savings and opportunities to share services or resources that will arise from a methodical understanding of our local governments will more than make up the foregone revenue of the Grant program.

To take the necessary steps that will ensure the long term sustainability, economic competitiveness, and physical attractiveness of our communities, decisions and development strategies must be data-driven and evidence-based.  GOPC is pleased to see that DataOhio holds the possibilities of providing that crucial information.

Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program Update

December 20th, 2013

Through early December, progress continued on the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program legislation with proponent testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee.

As discussed in earlier blog posts, Senate Bill 149 and House Bill 219 propose to create a program that would offer a tax credit to businesses that make monetary donations to catalytic community development projects.

At the second hearing on November 20th GOPC provided testimony in partnership with coalition member Ohio CDC Association and explained the design specifics of the program and discussed successes other states have experienced with similar programs. At the third House Ways and Means Committee hearing on December 4th, testimony was given from varying perspectives. Taris Vrcek, Executive Director of McKees Rocks CDC in Pennsylvania relayed a compelling story of decades long disinvestment in this first ring suburb of Pittsburgh (and Governor Kasich’s hometown) reversed by Neighborhood Partnership Program tax credits that resulted in the renovation of the historic Roxian Theatre, brownfield remediation and central business district revitalization.

Tim Bete, President, St. Mary Development Corporation described the complexity of development financing, the resource contraction facing the industry, the catalytic impacts of community economic development projects, and the desire for NIAP funding in Ohio. Mike Gonsiorowski, Regional President of PNC Bank in Columbus provided written testimony explaining their many years of experience participating in similar tax credit programs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The proponent testimonies significantly contributed to the momentum and energy around this proposed program. The General Assembly is on holiday break and the effort will continue in the New Year. The coalition greatly appreciates the commitment and travels of the testimony team.

For background information and written testimony on the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program, please click here.

Progress continues on advancing proposed Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program

November 13th, 2013

On November 12, 2013 the Greater Ohio Policy Center offered proponent testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program (NIAP)Senate Bill 149 proposes to create a program that would offer a tax credit to businesses or corporations that make monetary donations to catalytic community development projects.  Providing testimony in partnership with coalition member, the Ohio CDC Association, GOPC and OCDCA explained the design specifics of the program and discussed successes other states have experienced with similar programs.

After GOPC and OCDCA testified, a representative from PNC Bank offered proponent testimony in support of the bill.  PNC has been a leading voice for the creation of this program in Ohio and has many years of experience participating in similar tax credit programs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Providing the private sector—investor—perspective, Stephanie Cipriani, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Community Development Banking, described a range of projects PNC has invested in.  These projects include a housing development and a workforce and early education center.

Last, a nonprofit leader from Asbury Park, New Jersey described the transformation of a neighborhood in Asbury Park which was decimated by race riots and urban renewal projects in the 1970s.  With the help of New Jersey’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program, Paul McEvily and Interfaith Neighbors, Inc. have led the revitalization of one of New Jersey’s more disinvested neighborhoods.  McEvily’s testimony included a series of pictures of this neighborhood transformation and the impact of the private-public partnership created through New Jersey’s program, which prompted the Committee Chairman to jokingly propose a field trip to Asbury Park!

The proposed NIAP program still has at least one more hearing in the Senate and at least two more in the House before it can be voted upon by either the full House or Senate.  However, yesterday’s proponent testimonies significantly contributed to the momentum and energy around this proposed program.  Be sure to follow our twitter feed, blog, and newsletters to learn when these hearings will be scheduled.

For background information on the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program, please visit our webpage.

Legislative Update: GOPC to Give Testimony!

October 30th, 2013

In partnership with Ohio CDC Association and a coalition of supporters, the Greater Ohio Policy Center will be testifying at the Statehouse in support of the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program on November 5th.  The bills that would create this state tax credit program (SB 149 and HB 219) have begun to receive hearings, which allows for members of the General Assembly to ask questions about the proposed program.  GOPC is excited to be a leading proponent of this legislation.

As previous newsletters have described, the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistant Program would authorize tax credits for monetary contributions invested in catalytic economic and community development projects undertaken by local governments and nonprofit corporations.

This upcoming legislative hearing would not be possible without the dozens of organizations around the state that have facilitated introductions to legislators or have voiced their support of this bill to their Senator or Representative.  To see the complete range of supporting organizations, we proudly list them on the 1-pager we “leave-behind” with stakeholders and on this webpage.  If you are interested in adding your organization to this list, please email Alison D. Goebel. Your support has been and will continue to be invaluable in moving this legislation toward passage!

New Legislation Shaped by GOPC Introduced on Senate Floor

June 26th, 2013

 

GOPC Summer Intern Rachel Ellman, GOPC Intern John Gardocki and GOPC Projects Coordinator Christina Burke in the Senate Chamber before the introduction of SB149.

Yesterday was an exciting day for the Greater Ohio Policy Center.  GOPC—in partnership with Ohio CDC Association, Heritage Ohio, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and Habitat for Humanity-Ohio—has been working with legislators for almost a year to develop a state program that will provide tax credits to for-profit corporations that invest in place-based catalytic neighborhood projects.

That proposed program, the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program (NIAP), was introduced on the Ohio Senate floor yesterday as Senate Bill 149 (SB 149).  Sponsored by Senator Bill Beagle, and co-sponsored by Sen. Cliff Hite and Sen. Gayle Manning, this bill help leverage private dollars for community projects critical for the attractiveness and economic competitiveness of the state.

If passed, the NIAP tax credits could be used for corporate and business donations to project such as:

  • Renovating an historic theater
  • Streetscaping a central business district
  • Developing affordable housing for families
  • Building a community center

For more information about this program and to add your name to the growing list of private, public and nonprofit supporters list, please visit this link.

 

Greater Ohio 2012 Accomplishments

January 18th, 2013

We are proud of the accomplishments we have made in 2012. To fill you in on what’s been going on at GOPC’s office and throughout the state in the past year, below is a list of our accomplishments within our three priority policy areas: Urban Core and Neighborhood Redevelopment, Transportation and Sustainable Growth, and Regional Governance Reform. Together, redeveloping our urban centers, expanding our transportation options, and fostering regional cooperation will contribute to smarter, more sustainable growth, improving our quality of life and economic competitiveness in Ohio.

URBAN CORE & NEIGHBORHOOD REDEVELOPMENT

Raising Our Statewide Profile:

  • Ohio Properties Redevelopment Institute. GOPC hosted this innovative two-day forum that promoted solutions to vacant and abandoned properties. Nearly 200 local leaders from municipalities and non-profit community development organizations across the state attended.
  • Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program. The Ohio Attorney General’s office contracted with the GOPC to provide technical assistance to communities for the Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program, which supports Ohio’s communities undertaking activities to demolish abandoned and vacant residential properties.
  • Panels and Keynotes. GOPC presented on urban revitalization issues over 20 times to a variety of audiences including Ohio code enforcement officers, Cincinnati’s Foreclosure Group, Cleveland’s Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council (VAPAC), and Heritage Ohio workshop attendees.
  • In the Media. In 2012, GOPC was quoted or cited over 50 times in Ohio’s major newspapers and other publications around the country. In one article about vacant properties, The Columbus Dispatch relied heavily on data and graphs produced by GOPC.

Read the rest of this entry »