Volume 9, Issue 32 - August 16, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Government leaders continually struggle for funding. Budgets are constrained and critical needs are great. That creates great stress. 

However, public officials have options. Lots of alternative funding is available for projects that result in certain positive outcomes. Alternative revenue sources can be accessed through a number of federally funded programs. And, while these are attractive funding options, many of the programs are not as well-known as they should be. 

Much of the funding from federal programs comes from incentivizing private- sector investment. The programs offer tax incentives for investing in projects that meet certain criteria - projects that provide a desired outcome such as job creation, revitalization of underserved areas, rural upgrades, healthcare facilities, etc. If President Trump's promised Infrastructure Plan becomes a reality, even more tax incentives for private-sector investment will be announced.

One of the very popular alternative revenue sources comes from New Market Tax Credits (NMTC). This program is designed to stimulate private investment in capital projects in underserved areas. It offers tax credits to investors. Administered by the Department of the Treasury, the program has awarded $50.5 billion in NMTC allocation authority to community development entities. And, at the end of last year, every $1 of federal funding leveraged another $8 of private investment. 

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adding hazardous waste sites to the Superfund program's National Priorities List (NPL). The Superfund law directs the EPA to update the NPL annually. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term permanent cleanup. In May, a Superfund Task Force was formed to provide recommendations on how the EPA can restructure the cleanup process. On July 25, the Superfund Task Force released its report, which identifies 14 strategies and 42 specific recommendations to achieve the following five goals: expediting cleanup and remediation, reinvigorating responsible party cleanup and reuse, encouraging private investment, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization and engaging partners and stakeholders. 

An area of the Ridgewood neighborhood in the city of New York includes several automotive businesses. The area was declared a Superfund site by the EPA because of contamination from radioactive materials. The land was formerly occupied by a chemical company, which from the 1920s through the 1950s extracted metals from imported sand. In the process, the company produced waste containing two radioactive elements, thorium and uranium, which it disposed of by dumping the waste into sewers and perhaps also by burying it, according to the federal plan. The EPA often seeks to hold companies responsible for the contamination financially accountable for the cleanup, but the chemical company has been defunct for decades. The projected cost of the government's preferred plan for the cleanup is more than $39 million. Any demolition would not be undertaken until 2019 or 2020 at the earliest. About two dozen Superfund sites are ready for cleanup at any given time, but because of limited funding, usually work begins on only six to eight each year. 

The EPA is creating a "top-10 list" of key sites where nearby residents are in harm's way so that the agency can aggressively address those locations. The plan is to target sites where decontamination is estimated to cost $50 million or more. There are 1,300 Superfund sites nationwide, and more than 100 have sat dormant for at least five years with no formal remedy plan. 

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Kansas- Kansas State University (K-State) has requested $150 million in funding for an agricultural facility, $5 million for a global foods system initiative and a recurring $3.1 million for geology department improvements from the Kansas Board of Regents. The board will consider the request for the 2018-2019 school year during their September meeting. 

In addition to the request, K-State also asked for a bonding authority of $150 million and $10 million in state money to fund debt services for $175 million in new construction and renovations. The request is part of a four-phase, 20-year project for the College of Agriculture which is expected to cost $514 million. Phase 1 includes a new facility with a basement plant-growth room and a greenhouse. There will also be an addition of 264,000 square-feet of new space which will cost $139 million. Future phases involve investing in teaching and research equipment.
Alabama- Athens State University is preserving its historic character while modernizing the campus with a new master plan. Around 50 projects on the master plan were presented to the school's board of trustees as part of a capital campaign. 

Some of the projects include Founders Hall miscellaneous renovations for $13.68 million, a future academics building for $8.75 million, library renovations for $3.3 million, McCain Hall renovations for $1.6 million, McCandless Hall renovations for $2.4 million, Sanders Hall renovations for $5.2 million and Waters Hall renovations for $4.1 million. Another project includes the renovation of the Carter Physical Education Building, built in 1964, for $7.5 million and $4 million to bring the campus up to code. The plan also calls for standardizing campus signs, revitalizing landscapes and the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle path. The university plans to raise money for all projects through its capital campaign and public campaign, which will launch in 2020.
Illinois- This fall, Kane County will seek construction bids on Longmeadow Parkway. The county plans to issue bonds for the parkway and use tolls to pay back the bonds. The 5.6-mile parkway runs near the McHenry County border. While County officials are unsure on the exact amount they will borrow, their current plan involves $30 million in bonds which would put the toll between 50 and 75 cents per vehicle. 

Research presented by the Kane County Department of Transportation indicates the lower the toll the more people will use the bridge, but a rejection of the toll bridge by commuters would leave county taxpayers on the hook to pay off the bonds. The county aims to pay off the bond in 20 years and to set aside $300,000 annually for maintenance.
Maryland- The city of Frederick would like to be known as a regional destination for sports tourism by developing a Westside Regional Park. In 2009, the city purchased a 136-acre development site, formerly known as Hargett Farm.  

Plans for space include picnic pavilions, walking trails, an aquatic center and 11 multi-use sports fields. The facility is expected to spur economic development in the area. The park development is estimated to cost $98.5 million with $2 million for design and construction already allocated in the city's 2018 fiscal budget.
Louisiana- Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) is looking to ease traffic in Ascension Parish by widening Interstate 10. The route is of particular importance for freight and commuters driving between East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish. The project, which focuses on the stretch between Highland Road and Louisiana 73, was capped at $72 million in an effort to optimize future plans for Highland Road. 

Improvements are being funded by a combination of federal and state funds, including the use of over $40 million in congressionally authorized repurposed earmarks, which are one-time expenditures. Construction is expected to take about two-and-a-half years to complete and will begin in 2018.
Illinois- City leaders of Belvidere hope to turn a building that formerly housed a sewing machine company into a riverfront hotel development. After more than a decade of trying to renovate the property, the city Aldermen will vote on a request for proposals this month. City officials hope to turn the 10-acre property into living spaces, a restaurant and a banquet facility. 

The project is expected to cost $30 million with $3 million in federal historic tax credits and a deal for the land the city already owns. The land, located northeast of Main Street between the Kishwaukee River and Meadow Street, is also in a tax-increment financial district and an enterprise zone, meaning investors could be reimbursed for improvements and some taxes would be waived.

New York/New Jersey- The planning process for a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel is moving forward in New Jersey this month. A final environmental impact statement will be issued next spring to allow for construction to get underway in 2019. The tunnel would run between North Bergen and New York's Penn Station and is part of a regional Gateway initiative for infrastructure improvement in the region. 

The project will require building a tube in each direction for rail transit and alleviate concerns over whether the existing tunnel would ever shut down due to damage suffered during hurricane Sandy. Plans for the new tunnel were released for public review, along with an environmental impact study, and Federal and state officials are collecting public comments on the tunnel through Aug. 21. Questions over funding for the $13 billion project have urged officials to explore creating a public-private partnership for the tunnel.
California- Elk Grove is proposing a multi-modal, one stop transportation station. Community members recently heard details of the plan to build a central hub for boarding light rails and transferring from trains to buses. The overall site for the project would need to consist of 5 to 10 acres, preferably vacant sites. City officials are currently considering one of four possible locations for the project that they hope will alleviate congestion, improve regional transportation and further economic development. 

The city will continue to seek funding for the station through grant money, and will most likely consider a joint funding source such as a public-private partnership. The city is currently conducting a feasibility study along with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the San Joaquin Joint Power Authority. The city plans to hold another open house on Sept. 14., with a goal of delivering the final feasibility study report for review and approval by the city council on Oct. 25.
Delaware- The General Assembly approved seven bills to expand the 35-year-old Dover Mall in hopes to bring additional stores to the facility and increase foot traffic. The Dover City Council hopes a new road would provide easier access to the complex, but the Delaware Department of Transportation's timeline for road construction is too far into the future. Dover is looking towards a public-private partnership (P3) for the project. Through a P3, the $31 million road would be constructed with tolls and then would be turned over to the state. 

Those behind the plan are now working to get bonds and draw up the details of the P3. The plan is to have bonds issued by January, at which point the yearlong design phase can begin. Once that is completed, construction will take about 18 months. Details of a partnership have yet to be ironed out, but the community hopes a new road can be constructed within the next few years to help save the complex.
Alabama- The city of Selma wants to offer its residents free Wi-Fi downtown. Thanks to a 2009 bond measure, the city has miles of fiber optics underground but has been unable to capitalize on the investment. Last summer, Concordia College Alabama signed a lease to use two strands of the city's fiber optics, only a fraction of the 72 strands that run underneath the city. 

Selma will continue to find public-private partnerships (P3) to use the fiber optics so they can raise revenue without raising taxes and provide public Wi-Fi for families that may not have access. The only cost for the current Wi-Fi was towers, which had already been budgeted. The city has yet to announce a timeline for this project.
California- Blue Rock Springs Municipal Golf Course in Vallejo is getting an update. The city has released a request for qualifications (RFQ) for new development concepts after the city council terminated an agreement in June. According to the RFQ, city hall is looking for ideas for either a public-private partnership, lease, management agreement or some other arrangement for the revitalization of the property. 

The city hopes to renovate the two, 18-hole courses, located on 225 acres of city-owned property, in a way that it is independent of subsidies from the city. The city currently projects the course to need an $800,000 subsidy annually. In May, the club presented a revised budget which suggests charging a fee for tee time and leasing food operations. The city also hopes to develop a new clubhouse and improve the quality and property value of the surrounding neighborhoods. The RFQ is due by Sept. 8.
Massachusetts- The University Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA) is seeking request for information (RFI) from developers on how to best achieve its vision of an ocean-front Boston neighborhood on the Bayside Expo Center's site. The authority will use the responses to the RFI to better understand what public-private partnership opportunities exist for the site. 

The UMBA has been in the process of demolishing the Bayside Expo Center, and now uses the 20-acre site as a surface parking lot. The RFI calls for ideas of how to transform the site into a mixed-use destination with academic, research, retail, residential, dining, entertainment and cultural uses. In 2010, the authority acquired the waterfront parcel at Columbia Point for $18.7 million. Responses to the RFI are due by Oct. 6.

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