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Port Authority provides street funds to Leetonia

LISBON — The Columbiana Country Port Authority is putting some of its cash to work helping local communities with infrastructure needs, and the first recipient under the new infrastructure loan program is Leetonia.

The port authority board on Monday agreed to loan the village up to $425,000, with the money to be used for various street projects.

The money for the loan is coming from a $500,000 port authority certificate of deposit that recently came due. Rather than reinvest in CDs that are paying record-low interest rates, port authority director Penny Traina said they decided to use some of that money to start the loan program.

The loan is for five years and comes with a 2 percent interest rate. This is less than what Leetonia would pay had it borrowed the money from a bank but more than what the port authority would earn by reinvesting the money in a CD.

“I think it’s a win-win all the away around,” Traina said.

Traina said the staff had been looking for other ways to assist local governments and decided to use some of the $5 million it currently has invested in CDs, which are backed by the federal government, to start the loan program.

“This is a new innovative way to invest our money in communities and make money for us, too,” she said.

Board chairman Charlie Presley agreed, noting they are receiving a higher return while helping repave streets in Leetonia.

“It’s a no-brainer, like you pointed out,” he told her.

How much money will be available to loan depends on when a CD comes due and if there are other projects that need the money. The next CD that comes due is in late September in the amount of $1 million.

“As new CDs come due we’ll have to see how much cash we need at hand,” she said. “It will depend. It’s a new program and we’ll have to see how it goes from here.”

Leetonia mayor Kevin Siembida is grateful for the port authority’s help in addressing the village’s infrastructure needs in a cost-affective way.

“Over the past few years Leetonia has committed to heavily reinvest in its infrastructure. We have laid out long-term plans to update and repair our aging infrastructure. Our main focus has been on four areas; roadway, water, sewer and storm water,” he said

Leetonia’s street resurfacing project will be done in phases. The first includes the following seven streets: Madison, Hazel, Bears Den, Sleepy Hollow, Waddell, Pearl and Honey Lane. This will be done through the county engineer’s office.

The second phase consists of East High and Somer streets, which will include more extensive curb work and storm sewer improvements.

Leetonia will repay the loan using proceeds from its share of the state gas tax and license plate fees.

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