Mayor applauds Brown bill

In an effort to create jobs, a U.S. congressman unveiled legislation Wednesday to improve the nation’s infrastructure which would include a $30 million project in Wapakoneta.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced his plans to introduce the bill to address the nation’s infrastructure which should help the nation’s communities with critical projects and should help provide jobs for thousands of Americans.
“We have put hundreds of billions of dollars toward infrastructure over the last 50 years and we are simply not maintaining what we need to maintain,” Brown said Wednesday during a media teleconference the day prior to President Barack Obama’s speech today on job creation and the economy. “I know our bill we are introducing will start to remedy that with payoffs lasting decades, as investment we have made in infrastructure over the past several decades still serve us, but most of them need updating now.
“These projects have a multiplier effect of spurring economic development projects — whether it is small town, rural areas, urban areas, inner cities — they attract workers, they attract businesses, they attract foreign investment,” the U.S. senator said. “We know it creates jobs for workers building these infrastructure projects, we know it creates jobs at local manufacturers that build the equipment and we know that businesses are much more likely to come into a community that has reliable transportation, water and sewer, broadband and those sort of things.”
After the news conference, Brown released a report on Ohio projects
that would be eligible to apply for funding through the infrastructure bank. Eligible products include transit infrastructure, public housing infrastructure, road and bridge infrastructure, water infrastructure, aviation infrastructure, and freight or passenger rail infrastructure.
The report listed the $30 million replacement of the stormwater and wastewater sewer line along the south bank of the Auglaize River. The project would reduce or eliminate sanitary sewer overflows into the river.
Mayor Rodney Metz welcomed the news since the project is forcing the city to raise sanitary sewer rates to pay for the project and noted he and Lima Mayor David Berger have already worked on legislation to take advantage of the program should it pass Congress.
“I think it is fantastic news,” Metz said. “It is a way to stop punishing those communities, like ours, who have tried to do the right thing and have worked to try and comply with government directives, while the communities that are not doing anything and are creating more problems are the ones in line to receive money under the current programs.
“It is just disheartening to us because we are trying to do the right thing,” the mayor said. “We are real excited about this program and this is a positive step in the right direction.”
Metz noted he met with members of Brown’s staff prior to the senator proposing the legislation.
On Wednesday, Brown also explained money spent on infrastructure trickles down to retail and commercial establishments around the infrastructure projects.
Citing a study by the Federal Highway Administration, Brown noted for every $1 billion spent on highway and bridge construction, nearly 35,000 jobs are created. Citing information from the American Society of Civil Engineers, he noted failing infrastructure could cost the U.S. $2.7 trillion—or $129 billion a year— in lost productivity and lost income in trade in the coming decades.
The bill also includes a provision to create the infrastructure bank that would provide loans and loan guarantees for large infrastructure projects, much like revolving loan funds which government entities utilize grant to help loan money for improvement projects.
“That’s why I’m proposing a National Infrastructure Bank that would couple federal loans with private equity — ensuring a public-private partnership that meets local needs,” Brown said. “It would mean necessary funding to compete the project ahead of schedule, create jobs, and protect public safety.”
In Brown’s bill, the national infrastructure bank would provide loans and loan guarantees for infrastructure projects of national and regional importance that create and protect jobs, increase economic competitiveness, bolster exports and encourage private investment.
Specifically, the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2011 would:
• Provide low-interest loans, loan guarantees, and loan forgiveness for projects unable to obtain full financing on the private market or from local funding.
• Establish an independent entity to rate and select important projects that would achieve specific national goals of job creation, economic growth, or increased competiveness.
• Encourage increased investment from the private sector in our nation’s infrastructure.
• Create good-paying, middle-class jobs by bolstering the construction industry including workers, suppliers, and domestic manufacturers.
• Reduce the backlog in construction projects by freeing up additional funds from existing infrastructure programs to fund additional projects at the state and local level.
He compared the bank’s operation to a municipality’s revolving loan fund. A city receives a state or federal grant for a project, which the municipality or private company, pays back to the municipality under favorable terms. The money and additional grant money can be leveraged for other projects.