PDT Staff Writer
The Scioto County Commissioners recently passed a resolution of support for the Development Services Agency (DSA) Appalachia Assistance Fund.
The resolution states, “the Development Services Agency (DSA) Appalachia Assistance Fund provides much needed economic development project funding in the region and also assists communities to improve the social and economic climate and improve critical infrastructure. The Appalachian Regional Commission and DSA Appalachia Assistance Fund provide funding for business development, education and job training, telecommunications, infrastructure community development, housing as well as transportation projects that create new jobs.”
The resolution goes on the state several projects the Appalachia Assistance Fund has supported in the past.
According to the resolution, the in 2012 the Appalachia Assistance Fund projects came in at around $34 million, resulting in 876 new jobs and 4,091 jobs being retained.
According to John Hemmings, Director of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, when Gov. John Kasich presented his budget proposal, the state wanted to reduce the number of line items within the budget to make accounting easier.
“When they reduced the amount of line items, there used to be three line items, under Appalachian development, under the old Ohio Department of Development. The three old line items were the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, the dues the state pays to be a member of the Appalachian Regional Commission and the local development district,” Hemmings said. “They (state of Ohio) combined all that money, into one line item called Appalachia assistance and all of the dollars are all there.”
He said when you read the language of the budget bill it does not include the local development districts specifically.
“So, that money could be spent in various other places, it could pay for the administration of another office for that matter. In the budget language it specifically mentions the Governor’s Office of Appalachia and the dues,” Hemmings said. “So we’ve asked our boards of commissioners to pass resolutions asking the state to restore the line items to the way they were.”
He said the issue is not a matter of funding, it’s a matter of designating funds.
“There is no request for more money there. We’re just saying the budget language is unclear and we would like it clear,” Hemmings said.
He said the specific line item dealing with the development districts provides funds for administration.
Hemmings pointed out there are eight employees of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission and six of them live in Scioto County.
“The funding for the Local Development Districts and Governor’s Office of Appalachia (GOA) remains in the budget. As part of the state’s Mid-Biennium Review, in the summer of 2012, three budget line items related to the Governor’s Office of Appalachia were consolidated and renamed. This consolidation placed funding for the Local Development Districts, dues to the Appalachian Regional Commission and operating funds into a line named Appalachia Assistance. Funding for the GOA can be found under this name in the budget,” said Penny Martin, Communications Specialist, Office of Communications for the Ohio Development Services Agency. “The consolidation does not change the funding allocations to the respective LDDs for FY 2014-2015 and care was taken to retain the same level of funding for accomplishing program goals. The change simply enables the Governor’s Office of Appalachia and the Ohio Development Services Agency to more easily manage the budget activity for the Governor’s Office of Appalachia and the LDDs.”
He said the Appalachia Assistance Fund has assisted with several projects in Scioto County over the years.
“We are currently working with Compass Community Health on an expansion for their family health care center. In the past Scioto County has received funds for the Eden Park Sanitary Sewer Project and the city of Portsmouth received funds for water system upgrades,” Hemmings said.
He said seven of the 12 member counties of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, one of which is not an Appalachian county.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.