Road to riches: Conservative fiscal policy may help city cash in on grants

Sound fiscal policy for the past decade and more paid off, a city elected official says, because city administrators have learned the city is in a stronger position to take advantage of state and federal funds for future street improvement projects.
Wapakoneta Engineering Department Supervisor Mary Ruck presented a series of grants she can apply for next year to improve the city including a second Scrap Tire Amnesty grant, another round of Safe Routes to School money, an additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Small Cities Grant and more Transportation Enhancement Program grant money.
“I think the most interesting statement Mary made during the meeting was more grant money is being made available to cities that have funds available for matching grants and other cities are not participating and taking advantage of these shared grants because of their budgets,” Wapakoneta City Council 4th Ward Councilor Dan Graf said after Wednesday’s Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee meeting he chaired. “We’ve been fortunate that we have been conservative in our financing and budgeting and have this ability to take advantage of being able to participate and hopefully being awarded grants to cover 50 percent, 80 percent and 100 percent of a project.
“It looks like it is going to be busy for the next one, two and three years out,” the councilor told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “Ruck and the Engineering Department have been busy and will hopefully be busy with these projects for the next few years.”
Graf said he also was encouraged by the work done by Ruck and her staff to seek out grants to improve city streets and infrastructure.
“Anyone who travels our streets knows there are still a number of streets, heavily traveled streets that still need attention,” Graf said. “For us to be able to repair the streets and in some instances separate stormwater and sanitary sewer lines at the same time only improves our entire program that we have been working on for a number of years. The separation of sanitary and sewer lines during a street project is an instance of us working with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to address our storm overflows and eliminate raw sewage from entering the Auglaize River — which just betters our community,” he said.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Ruck requested permission to pursue a Scrap Tire Amnesty grant to help repave sections of Rauthland, Wagner and Douglas streets.
In September, crews repaved South Wentz Street with recycled tires ground to a powder and used in the pouring of the asphalt. The $134,000 project removed 600 to 700 tires from landfills and should extend the street life and make the roadway quieter.
The grant requires a 50 percent match from the city.
Ruck also requested permission to apply for a second round of Safe Routes to Schools money totaling $500,000. The city received $434,000 this past year to install sidewalks in the Bramblewood subdivision and along Redskin Trail.
The new money would be used to install sidewalks along Gardenia Avenue and Daisy, Primrose, Poppy and Laurel streets and a section of Carnation Drive.
The grant pays 100 percent of the cost.
She also received permission to fill out an application for another round of an Ohio Department of Transportation Small Cities Grant to reconstruct West Auglaize Street from South Blackhoof Street to West Pearl Street.
If the city is awarded money, the project would not be started until 2014 or 2015.
ODOT pays 80 percent of the project, with the city responsible for the remaining 20 percent.
The city received $1.34 million for the $2.5 million East Auglaize Street reconstruction project scheduled for 2012, with a $560,000 Transportation Enhancement Program grant to pay to enhance the entryway into downtown Wapakoneta.
She also sought permission to apply for another Transportation Enhancement Program grant, which committee members and Mayor Rodney Metz directed her to be used for area behind downtown stores near Heritage Park.
She also requested $70,000 to utilize the remaining $203,000 left in the Job Ready Sites fund to repave Short Road.
The grant applications will require an ordinance passed by Wapakoneta City Council.