Commissioners help EL with resurfacing

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners are helping East Liverpool resurface some city streets this year instead of waiting until 2015.

Commissioners voted at Wednesday’s meeting to contribute $33,500 from the small business revolving loan fund (RLF) program to the project, with East Liverpool putting up $36,500.

The streets to be resurfaced are portions of West Sixth and Monroe streets near East Liverpool City Hospital. The city of East Liverpool originally intended to resurface those streets with $63,500 it was to receive from commissioners in 2015.

The $63,500 represented a portion of the commissioners’ annual allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money. Until last year, East Liverpool and Salem received their own CDBG allocations, but the state changed the rules and smaller cities no longer receive separate allocations.

Under the new rules, East Liverpool and Salem were both entitled each year to a share of the commissioners’ CDBG allocation, but the two communities decided to take turns so their annual allocation would be larger. Salem went first and was awarded $63,500 in 2013 for a road resurfacing project to be undertaken this year.

It was East Liverpool’s turn to receive $63,500 this year, with the CDBG money to be released in 2015, but city officials did not want to wait, given the poor condition of the streets.

County Development Director Tad Herold came up with the idea of using some of the county’s RLF money, with East Liverpool contributing the rest from its RLF program. While the purpose of the RLF programs is to loan money to help existing and new businesses, Herold said the funds can sometimes be used for other purposes, with the state’s permission.

He said the state has agreed to let the county and East Liverpool use some of its RLF loan money for the street resurfacing project, and, unlike the loans, the money would not have to be repaid. Herold said the county did this last year to help with a bridge replacement project in East Palestine. This would leave the county’s RLF program with about a $37,000 balance.

As part of the deal, East Liverpool agreed to relinquish the $63,500 in CDBG money it was to receive, with commissioners using this to fund other community projects next year.

Herold was asked if this means East Liverpool would automatically be entitled to a share of the county’s CDBG money come next year. East Liverpool and Salem are only entitled to a share of the CDBG allocation through 2015.

“Next year is the last year under the three-year agreement, so we’ll have to figure out what we want to do,” he said.