Volume 8, Issue 9 - May 25, 2016
Nonprofit groups leading innovative partnerships
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Nonprofit groups are making bold strides and moving into new areas. Many public-private partnerships (P3s/ PPPs) now involve one or more nonprofit organizations. Throughout the country, there are numerous extremely successful examples of great collaborations.

In the past, PPPs traditionally involved collaborative efforts between a public entity and a private-sector coalition. And, a typical PPP engagement is usually based on private-sector capital, the shifting of risk and a long-term (usually more than 20 years) contract. But, public-private partnerships now can be structured in dozens of ways - and nonprofit organizations are often leading the collaborative initiatives.

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Schools, libraries leave millions of dollars unclaimed
FCC's E-rate program offers tech funding that often remains
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers discounted rates to schools, school districts and libraries to enable them to improve Internet access to people throughout the entire country. The discounts vary depending on the need of a particular applicant, but they range from 20 percent to 90 percent. The funding can be applied to anything from infrastructure like fiber-optic cables to internal connections, basic maintenance and managed broadband services.

The Schools and Libraries Program, typically referred to as the E-rate program, was created as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The program was intended to provide universal telecommunications service in general and increased access to the Internet in particular.

The FCC has capped annual funding at $3.9 billion, but many eligible applicants leave tens of millions of dollars unclaimed. Gary Rawson (pictured) is the federal programs coordinator for Mississippi's Department of Information Technology Services. He speaks often to state information technology (IT) directors about the unclaimed funding remaining in the E-rate program.

For instance, at an April meeting in Wisconsin, Rawson noted that more than 10 percent of the money awarded to schools and libraries in nine Midwestern states went unclaimed. That amounted to nearly $40 million. Rawson was in New York last week for another conference of IT directors and explained that schools and libraries in 10 Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states did not claim at least $73 million, a figure that amounts to almost a quarter of what those states were awarded by the E-rate program.

There are varying reasons for the leftover money. Sometimes, a project is planned and grants are requested, only for the project to be scrapped at a later date. Other times, the issue is that a form was filled out incorrectly or information has been lost in bureaucratic mix-ups. Rawson recommends state IT departments appoint one person to serve as a sort of state E-rate coordinator, someone who can serve as a central source of information for both the FCC and for individual schools and districts. That essentially is the job Rawson has for the state of Mississippi. Oftentimes, those entities aren't equipped to follow through the process of obtaining federal funding, Rawson said.

"Are they qualified to design networks or do procurements? Some are, some are not," Rawson said. "That can lead to dirty procurements and a loss of funding. This is where the state can step up and help. E-Rate is not forgiving, and the calendar is not either."

USDOT gets 212 applications for FASTLANE grants
$9.8 billion requested is 12 times amount available for transportation grants
Last year's congressional transportation bill, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, included the creation of a new grant program for highway and freight projects. It made available $800 million for projects "of national or regional significance" when the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released its notice of funding opportunity in March.

Evidently, the notion of federal funding for transportation projects is a popular idea. When the USDOT announced the total number of applications received last week, the list included more than 200 applications for projects totaling $9.8 billion. That's more than 12 times the funding available this year.

"We know there is pent up demand for projects that will speed up the delivery of goods and make America even more competitive. Today, we have even more evidence," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We're going to do our best to support high-impact transportation projects that will lay a new foundation for job creation and exporting American-made goods throughout the world."

The purpose of the FASTLANE grant program is to address the problems discussed in the 2015 USDOT report, Beyond Traffic. Those include increased congestion on the nation's highways and interstates, as well as the need for an increase in multimodal transportation options that will support the growth in freight movement. The program also was designed with the transportation department's National Freight Strategic Plan in mind. That plan was drawn up to shape the way the nation moves freight around in the future.

About two-thirds of the grant applications come from urban areas of the country.

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Kansas City bridge to be demolished, replaced
Missouri state transportation officials have decided that the Grand Boulevard Bridge over Interstate 670 in Kansas City must be demolished. The bridge has been closed to traffic since the beginning of May after pieces of concrete broke loose and fell to the roadway below. An inspection determined that the 53-year-old bridge could not be repaired and must be torn down. The six-lane bridge carries about 9,300 vehicles daily. The Missouri Department of Transportation declared that the bridge will be demolished in August, and a new bridge is expected to open by Dec. 1. The design process has begun already, and transportation officials expect construction to cost about $5 million. The department also is considering plans for several other overpasses in the area around the I-670 corridor. Many were built around the same time as the Grand Boulevard Bridge, which had passed an inspection as recently as September 2015.
Georgia, South Carolina prepare joint port project
Officials in Georgia and South Carolina are preparing to build the $5 billion Jasper Ocean Terminal, which is set to be constructed in South Carolina, just downstream from Savannah, Ga. The Georgia Ports Authority this week approved spending $7.5 million, its share of the costs for environmental studies. South Carolina legislators have already approved that state's contribution. Work on the 1,500-acre port will pick up the pace in three years, when the states are expected to begin the project in earnest by spending an additional $50 million to $100 million each for engineering, design and further environmental projects. The nearby ports of Savannah and Charleston, S.C., also are in the midst of channel-deepening and terminal-expansion projects in anticipation of increased business from the Panama Canal expansion. However, Savannah's Garden City Terminal is projected to reach its capacity within 15 years. That fact has led officials in both states to back the creation of the new port, which will cost the states at least $4.3 billion. It will feature the central terminal with docks, warehouses and new roads that stretch along the Savannah River.
San Francisco considering second BART tunnel
Officials in the San Francisco Bay Area are considering the addition of a second transit tube for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail system. The region's transportation agencies opened the first tube in 1974. Since then, the area's population has grown from 4.3 million to 7.6 million residents. In the same period of time, the average daily trips on BART trains have increased from of 57,000 to 434,000 riders. One option under consideration is to build a tunnel that could accommodate not only BART trains but also other railways, including high-speed trains. An official for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said that any project that would build a second tube is a long way off. "The process here is just so difficult to get through legally, but the other reason is that it's very difficult to raise that level of money," said Randy Rentschler (pictured), director of legislation and public affairs for the commission.
State approves funds for Danbury school upgrades
Legislators in Connecticut this month approved funding for 17 new school construction projects and reauthorized seven previously approved school projects. Included among the $381 million is $31.7 million in state funding for the expansion of Danbury High School. The total costs for that project, part of a larger program called DHS 2020, is more than $50 million. It will include construction of a theater, the addition of two music classrooms, a new entrance way and an expansion of the existing cafeteria. DHS 2020 also includes a new roof for the school and upgrades to other facilities. "DHS 2020 will encompass programming, athletics, the arts and state-of-the-art energy efficiency,'' Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said. "It will be an investment in our public school system that will result in higher property values and, most importantly, better educated children."
PennDOT allots $12 million for traffic signal program
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) last week announced that it would distribute $12 million to local governments throughout the state. The money, funneled through the transportation department's Green Light-Go program, will  be used to upgrade traffic signals and is made available to fund 50 percent of a project's costs, with the municipality covering the rest. "State and local partnerships like this are critical to improving traffic flow and safety across the state, and this program helps us meet that goal," said Gov. Tom Wolf (pictured). "Through this investment, communities across the state will benefit from upgraded signals and intersections." The grants can be used for the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) technology, monitoring traffic signals and upgrading traffic signals to the latest technologies. Under the Green Light-Go program, local governments manage projects on corridors with fewer than 10,000 vehicles, and PennDOT will have responsibility on busier thoroughfares.
Starkville approves funding for industrial park
The Starkville, Miss., Board of Aldermen has approved an investment of $7 million to build an industrial park on 385 acres. That money will be added to another $7 million committed by Oktibbeha County to fund the construction of the property. Officials have said that necessary infrastructure improvements in and around the site would amount to around $30 million, including $10 million to extend natural gas infrastructure, $3.33 million for road improvements and $1.5 million for an elevated water tank. Aldermen approved the site selection at the beginning of May and authorized the funding last week. Annual costs to the city and county on the property would be about $566,000 under current cost projections.
Cincinnati to spend $3.5 million on new rec center
The Cincinnati City Council has agreed to spend $3.5 million of city funding to build a new recreation center. The total costs of the project will be between $6.5 million and $7 million, but the city's contribution will come in two installments, $2 million in 2016 and $1.5 million next year. Currently, the neighborhood on the city's east side has only a community center based in a former restaurant. The area's city council member, P.G. Sittenfeld, said the current facility is inadequate for the neighborhood's needs and does not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other deficiencies. "Providing high-quality recreation facilities and programming improves neighborhood quality of life, strengthens public safety, helps stabilize property values and brings people together," Sittenfeld said. In addition to serving as a community center, the new facility also will provide a gymnasium for local elementary schools.
Decatur council approves funding for roads projects
Decatur, Ill., City Council members this week approved funding for a number of streets and bridge projects. Among those projects is the reconstruction of the Mound Road Bridge over Spring Creek. City funds for that project will be about $320,000, with federal dollars making up the rest of the $1 million project. Included among the other projects funded this week are an effort to replace lighting along the U.S. 36 Bridge across Lake Decatur and street resurfacing in Decatur. The latter will be conducted as part of an intergovernmental cooperative agreement with the townships of Hickory Point, Long Creek and Mount Zion and Macon County. The arrangement is designed to lower the cost of projects to each jurisdiction. The project will cost just less than $1 million.
San Dieguito district approves bond money for projects
The Board of Trustees of the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) in Encinitas, Calif., has approved the issuance of $62 million in bonds to pay for construction projects. One of the projects to be built, a performing arts center at Torrey Pines High School, has been a long time coming. "Forty-two years ago, when Torrey Pines was built, it was in the plans for a performing arts center," SDUHSD Board Vice President Joyce Dalessandro (pictured) said. "I'm so glad we are finally getting there. I really appreciate that." Construction on the performing arts center should begin in early 2017 and is expected to be completed in 18 months. Other projects included in the plans are a new classroom building at Canyon Crest Academy; a new two-story classroom building at Pacific Trails Middle School; and a science classroom building, expansion of Crest Hall and modernization of classrooms at Oak Crest Middle School. These bonds are part of a $449 million bond package approved in 2012. District officials said that SDUHSD has issued $277 million of that total thus far.
Outagamie County approves campus expansion plans
Members of the Outagamie County, Wisc., Board of Supervisors have voted to expand the campus that serves as a home to county agencies. Included in the expansion is an 86,000-square-foot addition at a cost of $15 million and a new facility for the sheriff's department that will cost just more than $4 million. The entire expansion project is scheduled to come in at about $36.3 million. Other projects included are renovations to the county's Health and Human Services offices and Justice Center. The portion of the project that will build the new sheriff's department facility is still in flux, however. County officials are still considering an option that would build a joint facility with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. State transportation officials have not yet decided on that proposal, which was initiated by Outagamie County planners, but are expected to do so soon.
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Red River flood diversion plan to get federal money
The flood diversion project that will protect areas around Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., from the waters of the Red and Wild Rice rivers just got some good news from the federal government. Officials with the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority reached agreement earlier this month with federal authorities to contribute $479 million this year so that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) can begin construction of hydraulic structures on the rivers, as well as a dam to protect areas in the floodplain. The USACE announced in February that the project would begin construction in 2016, and this agreement funds that work, both design and construction. The agreement states that any money left over from the USACE's work will go to the Diversion Authority. The entire project will cost more than $2 billion and be financed largely through a public-private partnership (PPP/P3). It will include the construction of a diversion channel west of West Fargo, hydraulic structures on several other rivers and multiple dikes. All of those projects will be conducted by the Diversion Authority and its private partner.
Miami Beach releases RFQ for affordable housing PPP
City officials in Miami Beach, Fla., are seeking to identify a company that will help them develop housing in new and existing residential buildings. The project would be intended to qualify as affordable or workforce housing and be priced at below-market rates. The city issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) last week to find a consulting firm that can help city housing officials identify and create public-private partnership (PPP/P3) opportunities that will lead to more affordable housing. The selected partner will work with city officials throughout the process but will not be eligible to participate in any projects that result from its services. Responses to the RFQ are due June 16.
New health, literacy center opens in Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have joined together to build a community center that features a health care facility, a library and a recreation center for children in South Philadelphia. The public-private partnership (PPP/P3) was financed with $30 million from CHOP and smaller contributions from the Free Library of Philadelphia and from the city. The city government owns the land on which the facility was constructed and leases it to the partnership. It contains a pediatric primary care center, a Philadelphia Department of Public Health Community Health Center, the South Philadelphia Library and the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center. "The South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center will provide children and adults not only with comprehensive health and wellness services, but also a full range of literacy and recreational programming, all under one roof," said Madeline Bell (pictured), president and CEO of CHOP. "It is the country's first example of this unique type of public-private partnership."
Federal accounting board sets PPP reporting standards
The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) last month released Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS) 49. Titled "Public-Private Partnerships: Disclosure Requirements," the statement is intended to provide a consistent standard across federal agencies for what is required to be disclosed when an individual federal entity enters into a public-private partnership (PPP/P3). It also offers a definition for PPP agreements that will apply to federal agencies. The statement was designed to increase the amount of information available to those involved in federal PPPs. The statement was developed by a 50-person task force, composed of 30 federal government representatives, 17 from the private sector and three described as "citizen advocates." "They all generally agreed that having uniform accounting standards in place would help facilitate P3 growth and could also result in higher credit ratings, resulting in lower project financing costs," said Domenic Savini, an assistant director with FASAB. The project to develop the statement and standardized regulations and definitions began more than four years ago, Savini said.
Delaware State issues RFI for student housing PPP
Delaware State University officials last week issued a request for information (RFI) in an effort to identify private developers to build a student housing facility. The new residential construction would be for the school's Newark, Del., campus and be developed as a design-build-finance-operate-maintain-transfer public-private partnership (PPP/P3) under a long-term lease. The facility also would feature classroom space and a food court and could include retail space, if the developer chooses. Other options for the proposals are the possible inclusion of non-university property adjacent to the campus that the partner could buy and develop as the new location of an existing charter school and a convocation center complex. University officials will negotiate the project's schedule and delivery date with the chosen developer. Responses are due Aug. 19.
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