A state issue on the May 6 primary ballot will determine financing public infrastructure, an issue that has passed in the state multiple times.
The state issue is a proposed Constitutional amendment, Section 2s of Article VIII (Eight), which will provide funding for public infrastructure capital improvements through the issuance of general obligation bonds.
Peggy Byers, deputy director for the Washington County Board of Elections, said the purpose of the amendment is to bring money to the local level.
Mike Durham, equipment operator for the Wastewater Treatment Plant, operates a root cutter in the sewer on Gilman Street Tuesday afternoon. Waste water treatment systems are one portion of infrastructure that will benefit from the passage of State Issue 1.
The Marietta Times
"It's supposed to give some money back to the local government," she said. "Townships really feel like they've been hurting and this is supposed to remedy some of that."
If the amendment passes, more money will be up for grabs for Ohio's 88 counties through bonds: it will mean $1.875 billion will be issued over a 10-year period for infrastructure improvements. There is a stipulation that any principal amount that could have been issued in a prior fiscal year, but was not issued, may subsequently be issued. Though the bonds issued will pay for projects in the next decade, it may take up to nearly three times that to pay them back.
Facilities included in the infrastructure improvements are: roads and bridges, waste water treatment systems, water supply systems, solid waste disposal facilities, storm water and sanitary collection, storage and treatment facilities.
State Issue 1
Arguments for Issue 1
Issue 1 brings needed repairs to roads, bridges and other facilities to keep residents safe and maintain quality of life.
First authorized in 1987, Issue 1 has been renewed twice in 1995 and 2005 and is a tried and true success.
All 88 counties across Ohio benefit from more than 11,500 grants for local projects. An estimated 35,000 jobs will be created.
Funds to repay project bonds are already built into the state budget planning, so taxes will not be increased. It also reduces pressure to raise local governmental taxes.
The issue has bipartisan support; the vote in the Senate to put Issue 1 on the ballot was 31-0 and the vote in the House was 90-2.
Arguments against Issue 1
Issue 1 allows the state to issue more bonds and causes all taxpayers to pay interest on those bonds to cover local projects.
The state government has gone back to voters numerous times for permission to issue more general obligation bonds, most recently in 2005. Issue 1 represents an increase in the amount of borrowed money and spending on local infrastructure and didn't last the full 10 years after renewal in 2005.
Though the bonds will pay for projects over the next decade, it may take up to three times as long to pay them back.
TO LEARN MORE: Additional information on Issue 1 and other issues can be picked up at the Board of Elections office, 204 Davis Ave., Suite B.
Source: The Office of Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Washington County Commissioner Ron Feathers said he feels there is no need to pass the amendment.
"It's basically increasing the debt ceiling by half a billion dollars," he said. "They're moving it from $1.3 billion to $1.875 billion and they're doing it by selling bonds and somebody's got to pay that back."
Feathers said in the past there have been promises of more local money from the state but it rarely trickles down.
"How many times have they promised 'We'll give you more money?'" he said. "Coming down to local townships for local infrastructure, you just don't see it. There are so many hoops you have to jump through."
Conversely, Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews is an avid supporter of the state issue.
"I'm certainly in favor of it," said Matthews, who is a coordinator for Issue 1 support in Washington County.
"It's been a great program for all involved," he said. "I wholeheartedly ask people to support it."
Matthews said that though $1.875 billion seems like a huge chunk of money, if it's broken down it really isn't.
"It's probably not (too much) because you break that down into 10 years," he said. "I believe the needs are here in Washington County. We're talking about all the districts in the state, it's not that much there."
In fact, Matthews suggests that the number might be a little low.
"It's probably low; we need more," he said. "They tried to come up with a figure people can live with. It's been a great program. Marietta's had some great results."
Some of those results include work on the water treatment plant a few years ago, improvements to the Wastewater Treatment Plant and quite a bit of money for roads. Matthews said in 2011, 2012 and 2013 the city received money for city-wide asphalt resurfacing projects: $400,000, $397,000 and $400,000, respectively. He added that more money would be coming in this year, and the city applies for the bonds through Buckeye Hills.
Feathers said that there is still too much taxpayer money in limbo from the last time the bond issue was approved and voted in.
"There's $1.3 billion out there of taxpayer money they're throwing around," he said, adding, "I will not support this or vote for it."