Daily Court Reporter - News Prolific pothole season prompts request for $30M from surplus fund
Prolific pothole season prompts request for $30M from surplus fund
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
As Columbus street maintenance crews continue to operate on a near-on call response to the potholes surfacing on city thoroughfares, leaving them pockmarked and, in some cases, unsafe, a northeast Ohio lawmaker has requested a $30 million fix for roads around entire state.
Recently, Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, introduced a bill to assist local communities in their efforts to repair Ohio roads following the winter season.
"This winter has been brutal and that means potholes have popped up all over Ohio roads," he said upon the bill's introduction. "I'm hearing from constituents and seeing on the news nearly every day that there is a big problem with filling potholes in our communities - like on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland and on Harvard Road in Cleveland's Ward 1.
"Budgets are tight and many of our local governments don't have the resources to fix our roads fast enough. The state needs to step in and lend a hand so we can ensure Ohio drivers are safe."
Filed as Senate Bill 269, the measure calls for supplemental appropriation in the amount of $30 million in order to provide political subdivisions with funding for road maintenance repairs.
Yuko said the bill would provide a one-time award to be distributed to counties, municipalities and townships from Ohio's $2.03 billion Rainy Day Fund.
Upon passage of SB 269, funding for communities would be available immediately.
"The foregoing appropriation item shall supplement, not supplant, existing revenue received by political subdivisions for transportation maintenance and construction purposes," the bill stipulated.
The lawmaker based his rationale for the bill on a 2017 Infrastructure Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which found that Ohio drivers spend an average of $475 per year on costs related to driving on roads that need repairs.
He also cited AAA, which reported earlier this year that pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion annually.
According to the bill, the director of Budget and Management would establish accounts indicating the source and amount of funds for the appropriation and would determine the form and manner in which appropriation accounts would be maintained.
Any expenditure from the appropriation would be accounted for as though made through the approved state budget.
"The appropriations made in this act are subject to all provisions of (the budget act) of the 132nd General Assembly that are generally applicable to such appropriations," the bill continued.
"Our local communities need this one-time funding award to help us get through the rest of the winter," Yuko said. "But we need a long-term solution to fix Ohio's crumbling roads.
"And I am working on another, more comprehensive bill to get our roads back in shape. It's critical for our drivers, but also for our economy, which relies on a state-of-the-art road system in order to do business."
SB 269 awaits committee referral and has secured co-sponsorship support of five fellow senators.
Date Published: March 23, 2018