Perrysburg debates value of federal dollars PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:13
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PERRYSBURG - Another city council meeting gave way to a discussion on the effectiveness of federal loan programs on Tuesday.
Prompted by motions to fund several projects with state and federal grant and loan funds, debated during previous meetings, council member Sara Weisenburger stuck by her opposition to what she described as a government bureaucracy that requires cities like Perrysburg to apply for grants in order to receive their own tax dollars back.
"I was told recently that I couldn't change the world by ranting on the Internet," Weisenburger said. "I was told last council meeting that we couldn't control the federal government, that as councilors we couldn't change how things were run. And I have to believe we can do something."
Weisenburger said the grant system "seems to be a redistribution of wealth," with poorer communities receiving zero-percent interest and principal forgiveness that results in other cities picking up the tab. Though cities like Perrysburg pay into public programs and receive little in return, they keep playing the "grant system game" to get a chunk of their own money back, she said.
Council previously approved a loan application through the Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund for a $14.8 million expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. The 20-year agreement would save nearly $2.7 million, as it comes with a lower interest rate than paying for the project locally with municipal bonds, for which Weisenburger and council member Todd Grayson advocated.
"We're borrowing our own money that we've been putting into the system, and paying interest on our own money," Weisenburger said.
"I don't know how we play the game and stop the game from happening."
While council member Tim McCarthy said Weisenburger's comments on ineffectiveness in the federal government were "well taken," he disagreed about the group attempting to force national change by taking a stand here.
"The citizens of this town and all towns pay their federal and state taxes, and those grant/loan programs are available," he said. "They exist for a purpose - to help all communities achieve infrastructure projects that are beneficial for the environment as a whole. And if we pay our taxes and these sources are available to afford projects at rates that are lower for our citizens, I'm all for that."
Joe Lawless, council president, agreed with McCarthy about not passing along tax higher rates to residents, though he conceded it would be ideal to simplify the federal government's collection and redistribution of local funds.
"I agree 100 percent with what you're saying. I would much rather see all these programs go away," Lawless said.
"But in doing that, they also have to stop taking our money from us to give to other people, and I don't see that happening anytime soon, unfortunately."
Tuesday's discussion was spurred by proposed resolutions to apply for Ohio Public Works Commission grants for the wastewater improvements and the Cherry Street Sewer Separation District 212 project, as well as a matching grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for Emerald Ash Borer removal. OPWC grants would total $450,000, while the ODNR grant would match up to $36,320 in city funds.
Those three resolutions passed 5-2, with Weisenburger and Grayson voting no.
Separately, council unanimously approved two ordinances and one resolution to move forward with, bid, and accept the equalization board's recommendations for the Cherry Street Sewer Separation District 210 project.
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:17
 

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