COLUMBUS – Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, successfully added several provision to the state biennial budget bill, HB 49, which was approved by the Ohio House Tuesday.
The most important one helps property owners address the effects of ODNR’s announcement in early March that storm water discharges going through or on top of the dam back into the lake will be cut off in July. That deadline has reportedly been pushed back to October though that delay has not been confirmed in writing.
Three collection systems with pumps currently discharge storm water via a pipe through the dam. One is operated by the West Bank Homeowners Association to protect homes from being flooded by storm water. Some 40 homes are subject to flooding since the old railroad bed that runs behind the properties prevents any natural run-off. The pump also protects one of the Licking County Sewer District’s lift station from being flooded.
A second pump provides similar protection on the Ballard Road portion of West Bank. A third pump protects about 200 acres of prime farmland and keeps Millersport Road from flooding.
In addition, many of the 370 homes along the dam front discharge storm water individually to the lake through or on top of the dam. All this rerouted storm water will increase the risk of flooding behind the dam.
Two years ago, Schaffer was instrumental in creating a Lakes in Economic Distress program that was part of the last biennial budget. That program included grants and up to $500,000 for loans.
No loans have been made and only about a dozen $10,000 grants have been approved. Businesses had to demonstrate a 40 percent loss of the business to qualify.
A Schaffer amendment reduced the 40 percent standard to 10 percent and restores the entire $500,000 earmarked for loans. The amendment also made all application materials confidential, not subject to public records.
Governor Kasich’s budget proposal returned the loan allocation to the state’s general fund.
Depending on loan demand, all of the restored $500,000 may be available to help property owners comply with ODNR’s storm water discharge cut-off order.
. This funding will help offset costs associated with drainage infrastructure and any engineering studies to reroute storm water away from the lake, a project likely to cost millions of dollars.
House Bill 49 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. After the Senate passes its version, changes will be reconciled in a conference committee. The final version will be approved before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.