If a subdivision is in more than one county or in more than one district, the subdivision shall be deemed to be a part of the county or district in which the largest number of its population is located. However, if after a decennial census the change in a subdivision's population would result in the subdivision becoming part of a different county or district, the legislative authority of the subdivision may, by resolution, choose to remain a part of the county or district of which the subdivision was originally deemed to be a part.
Ref: ORC 164.04(D)
In the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, improvement, planning, or equipping of appurtenances to roads and bridges to enhance the safety of animal-drawn vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles, eligible activities include, but are not limited, to the following:
(A) Constructing or widening shoulders, including widening of bridges and culverts and purchase of rights-of-way, if necessary;
(B) Constructing pull-off lanes for roadways with visibility issues;
(C) Improving vertical and horizontal curvature of roadways;
(D) Placement of warning signs for animal-drawn vehicle traffic, including automated flashing signs.
Ref: ORC 164.16
OPWC-funded projects are subject to all state audit requirements. A copy of an audit in connection with and specific to an approved project must be provided to the OPWC. Any negative or adverse findings pertaining to the project must be addressed. If findings are not addressed or satisfactorily resolved, the OPWC may bar the applicant from further financial assistance until the applicant complies with or resolves such findings.
Ref: OAC 164-1-24
If a Project Agreement combines grant with loan the Commission will generally pay out on the grant portion first unless the combination exceeds statutory limits for grants (i.e., 90% for repair/replacement and 50% for new/expansion). If a combination of grant/loan assistance exceeds grant statutory limits, then on each disbursement request the Commission may draw on the loan for that portion exceeding the statutory grant limit to ensure that the local share is met.
Ref: ORC 164.05(D)
Construction activities and tasks include but are not limited to material handling (including off-site prefabrication), excavation, brush cutting, demolition, utility relocation, grading, footings, form work, backfill, pipe installation, as well as carpentry for water and wastewater treatment facilities. The work performed may include new work, additions, alterations, and repairs.
If the Commission has determined that the scope of services and/or the associated fees are not clearly indicated, the engineer of record will be asked to clarify services with their fees. Administrative costs incurred for grant and loan management are ineligible. Costs include but are not limited to application and disbursement preparation.
If the Commission's Project Agreement with the local subdivision contains a contingency line item, it may be used to resolve construction site problems which result in unforeseen but necessary and legitimate construction expenses. This line is not intended for engineering over-runs or right-of-way expenses. The Commission may request documentation it considers appropriate, including the subdivision's agreement with the consulting engineer. Advanced approval is required for over-runs.
Demolition is an eligible cost item as part of a larger OPWC-funded project such that the project is for infrastructure that replaces the infrastructure to be demolished.
The Commission will pay eligible project costs at its percentage rate per the Project Agreement up to the total amount of grant assistance. Applicants should be prepared to meet their local share requirements at all stages of the project. At the discretion of the Commission, the percentage rate can be adjusted during the disbursement process but must be met prior to or by project close-out. Disbursement documentation must include detailed invoices. Payment may be made directly to the vendor or as reimbursement to the subdivision if the invoice is accompanied by proof of payment (evidence of completed bank transfer by cancelled check image front and back, or screenshot from online bank).
The Commission can only disburse funds for eligible project costs that are included in the project’s scope of work as defined in the Project Agreement. Changes to the scope of work are the sole responsibility of the subdivision unless the district has approved a request to amend the scope.
Districts may choose to bill against their SCIP and LTIP allocations for costs incurred in administering these programs. If a district chooses to participate in this program 70% of allowable costs will be drawn from the SCIP allocation and 30% from the LTIP allocation. Each district may receive up to $65,000 per program year ($45,500 in SCIP and $19,500 in LTIP).
Reimbursement is permitted for those costs directly incurred because of the need for labor, materials, supplies, equipment, travel, and support services to perform the committee's statutory requirements. The District Integrating Committee must approve participation in this program. Each district making this election must prepare an annual work plan and budget outlining the administrative costs to be provided and a detailed summary of administrative cost. Approval by the District Integrating Committee must be documented in its meeting minutes and supplied with this material.
Ref: OAC 164-1-33
A District Public Works Integrating Committee is established in each of the nineteen districts. Members' terms of office are three years, with each term ending on the same day of the same month as did the term before it, except that the term may not extend beyond their terms as an elected or appointed official unless the member was appointed by a group of officials of more than one political subdivision or members of the district committee. In such case, the member's alternate continues to serve for the full term. Since initial appointments were made in 1998 the terms of committee members expire sequentially every three years (e.g., 2021, 2024, etc.), however, members may be reappointed.
The authority to make appointments to district committees varies from district to district; however, all subdivisions are required to participate in the appointment of their representatives to their district committee. District committees are responsible for coordinating the appointment process in their respective districts and informing the Commission of appointments. Appointing authorities are encouraged to make their appointments prior to the expiration of the term of the incumbent appointee(s).
For the appointment of each new member and reappointment the district must provide a letter from the appointing authority or resolution. For the private member appointment, the district must supply the meeting minutes documenting the committee's motion to approve.
Appointing authorities may appoint alternates to serve in an appointed district committee member's absence to vote and participate in all meeting proceedings and actions. The alternate's term cannot exceed the term of its member with the exception noted above. Although appointments of alternates by each respective appointing authority are optional once the appointing authority has exercised this option it may not rescind it for the duration of the member's or alternate's term. The appointing authority must provide the Commission with written documentation of the appointment including the alternate's name, email address, and telephone number.
A member and the alternate serve until the term expiration date or until the member's, or alternate's successor takes office or until a period of 60 days has elapsed, whichever occurs first.
Ref: ORC 164.04, ORC 164.06, OAC 164-1-03
Districts are required to allow a minimum of sixty days from the Commission’s approval of their respective project selection methodologies to accept applications. If methodologies remain unchanged, the Commission must be notified accordingly. Information should be submitted with the annual program schedule.
The OPWC reserves funds for emergency infrastructure projects that arise directly out of catastrophic situations that involve an immediate threat to public health and safety, and for which there is no alternative way of addressing the project through local funding or other resources. Emergency funds are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Funding requests are accepted year-round by the OPWC.
Ref: ORC 164.08(B)(2), OAC 164-1-19
More Information: OPWC Emergency page
Engineering costs (preliminary design, final design, inspection) as a percentage of construction costs are closely reviewed and maintained within a reasonable margin. The OPWC works with the industry to ensure OPWC's expectations reflect averages. The Ohio ACEC reports that engineering costs are "typically less than 15% of a project's construction costs" and that construction inspection is somewhere between 5 to 10%. Understandably, many factors can impact these averages, but the OPWC has a long history of maximizing its financial contribution toward construction. A subdivision is not capped at what they choose to pay for these costs but the OPWC project budget, what we will pay for and leverage, must be held across the board. Therefore, costs that exceed these parameters should not be included in the OPWC project budget. If a district approves a budget exceeding these parameters, the OPWC reserves the right to adjust accordingly. Actual engineering costs incurred above the budget line item contained in the project agreement are the sole responsibility of the subdivision and will not be credited to the local contribution. Any request to amend the project budget for engineering services must be approved in writing in advance by the Commission.
Ohio law permits a board of township trustees to enter into a contract with their county engineer for engineering services in exchange for full or partial payment for the costs of those services. (ORC 164.15)
If a township has adopted a limited home rule government, a township may order the county engineer to hire an independent professional engineer for engineering services. If a professional engineer is hired, the county engineer is required to review, comment on, and monitor the professional engineer's plans. (ORC 5573.01) In order for the OPWC to participate in the payment of such services either a Memorandum of Understanding between the township and county, or letter from the county engineer, must be provided.
Townships are directed to the referenced Ohio Revised Code sections above and to the respective county engineer's office for any questions.
Each project application must contain a formal detailed estimate of the project's cost and be signed and stamped or sealed by a professional engineer. Inflationary adjustments will be removed from cost estimates except for those prepared for ODOT-funded projects. Costs estimates should be current at the time of submission.
Ref: OAC 164-1-16
Applicants must include a Farmland Preservation statement for projects that have an impact on productive agricultural and grazing land which describes both direct and indirect impacts and mitigation measures that could be implemented when alternative sites or locations are not feasible.
‘Green’ options to address stormwater management are eligible as an appurtenance to roadway projects and/or as part of a stormwater solution. Options include rain gardens, bio-retention (rain gardens with underdrains), vegetated curb extensions (bump-outs), bio-swales, tree box filters, and permeable sidewalks.
Townships with a population in the unincorporated territory of at least 5,000 may, by procedures provided for in law, adopt limited home rule status. In addition to other powers provided for in law these townships may:
• Construct, maintain, and finance sewer systems under certain circumstances
• Contract with county sewer districts and regional water and sewer districts, as well as municipal corporations and private operators, to supply water and sewer services
• Issue general obligation bonds for the costs of water supply facilities and sewer improvements
• Hire an independent professional engineer in lieu of using the county engineer for specific road projects. (Also see Engineering Services for Townships)
Ref: ORC Chapter 504
Ohio’s Limited Home Rule Townships (as of 2/22/23)
West Chester Township
Clear Creek Township
The application can only contain the reasonable value of those engineering, right-of-way, and construction costs that are integral to the project. Engineering costs shall not include any of the subdivision's ongoing overhead expenses for carrying out its existing engineering services.
Ineligible costs include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
• Engineering: Fees above the approved engineering budget in the Project Agreement, and administration costs including fees or in-kind incurred for completing OPWC's paperwork or for securing and/or administering other funding sources
• Legal: Mailing costs to residents for assessment hearings
• Aesthetics: Items that strictly serve an aesthetic purpose including landscaping beyond basic post-construction repair, stabilizing, and reseeding of land surfaces (except for roundabouts for the purpose of serving as visual cue and for green stormwater management options), cost differential for decorative lighting, decorative piers, community welcome signs, water tower slogans and logos, and trees grates and tree relocation
• Debt: Notwithstanding Loan Assistance / Credit Enhancements (see section below), OPWC funds may not be used to pay or reimburse debt
• Other: Trucked-in potable water for residents
Ref: OAC 164-1-15
Loan recipients are required to make timely payments on their loans in response to biennial billing. Failure to do will prevent the local subdivision from submitting disbursements on active projects and applying for new projects in the WorksWise portal. Note that it takes time to process payments so that should be accounted for. It is highly recommended that payments are made in a timely manner to prevent disruption in service.
The OPWC provides two financial tools to assist with affordability.
Loan Assistance is a grant that pays for the interest on a public or private loan during the construction period. Construction must have commenced within three years prior to the date of the project agreement. Credit Enhancement is a one-time infusion of funds to enhance an applicant's ability to secure affordable debt. The OPWC may pay the premium for a bond insurance policy which would improve the applicant's credit or bond rating. These two funding tools may be applied for as part of a project which is also for a grant, loan or grant/loan combination but needs to be a separate application for administrative purposes.
More Information: OPWC Loan Assistance page
Loan terms range from one to thirty years but cannot exceed the useful life of the project. Each district integrating committee recommends the rate of interest which ranges from zero to three percent but typically is 0%. Loans are put into billing upon project completion. Payments are due the last business day in January and July 1st for the duration of the loan. There is no prepay penalty to pay the loan in full at any time. Any loan resulting in a repayment amount equal to $5,000 or less will be invoiced as two equal payments to be repaid according to the billing cycle stated above.
If loan payments are not received within 30 days of the due date the OPWC may apply late fees, which are accrued at a rate of 8% per annum. Any loans more than 60 days late will be turned over to the Attorney General's office for collection. As provided in law, the OPWC may require that such payment be taken from the local subdivision's share of the County Undivided Local Government Fund.
More Information: OPWC Loan page
More Information: OPWC Loan Reports
Ref: ORC 164.05(C)
The local match is the participation percentage rate that is made up of non-OPWC funds. It may consist of other agency funds (federal, state, or local) or local "pre-paids" for engineering or right-of-way, or in-kind work (labor, equipment, materials). Pre-paids may either be reimbursed (up to one year prior to the date of the Agreement) or credited toward the local match.
Ref: ORC 164.05 (D)
More Information: OPWC In-kind Instructions
Projects that do not repair or replace infrastructure and only maintain it in a "state of good repair" are not considered a "capital improvement" as defined by the Revised Code (ORC 164.01). Projects that substantially prolong the useful life via lining or epoxy coating of structures will be considered a "capital improvement".
A markup cost is ineligible and must be subtracted from any contractor, consultant, subcontractor and/or subconsultant invoice prior to submission with a disbursement request. Any such markup is the responsibility of the local government.
Any District committee member who fails to attend at least three-fifths of meetings for any two-year period forfeits their position on the committee.
Ref: ORC 3.17
On OPWC-funded projects a percentage, 15% as specified in ORC 125.081, of local subdivision direct contracts for procurement of equipment, materials, and supplies must be made from state certified MBE vendors.
Any project application involving two or more subdivisions must contain a cooperative agreement between the parties.
Ref: OAC 164-1-17
District Public Works Integrating Committees and their subcommittees, including Small Government subcommittees and County subcommittees, are public bodies and therefore subject to Open Meeting laws as defined by section 121.22 of the Ohio Revised Code (as part of Ohio's "Sunshine Laws"). All meetings must always be open to the public. A member must be present in person to vote, deliberate, or to be counted in a quorum; however, video conferencing is permitted for public access. Quorums are district specific in accordance with the Law.
The district liaison must make public notice of the meeting at least 72 hours in advance of the scheduled meeting. Public notice consists of the day, time, place, and purpose of the meeting and must be made orally, or in writing, to all members of the public body and to any person, or the news media, requesting notification. Full and accurate meeting minutes which permit the public to understand and appreciate the rationale behind the public body's decisions must be promptly prepared, filed, and maintained and be open to public inspection.
Ref: ORC 121.22, ORC 164.04(D), OAC 164-1-10
More Information: AG website, Ohio’s Sunshine Law Manual
Construction signs are not required on OPWC-funded projects. However, if a local subdivision elects to erect signage, then it may want to elect to follow OPWC’s recommended standard layout to increase public awareness through signage repetition. OPWC will participate in the cost of the signage and reimburse the local subdivision on the project's applicable disbursement ratio based on a photo of the sign and invoice. OPWC projects jointly funded with other state or federal funding agencies which have other signage requirements are exempt from the standardized layout.
More Information: OPWC Sign specifications page
The OPWC requires that all state and local bidding laws and requirements be followed including the payment of state prevailing wages. If the project is jointly funded with federal money, federal laws may override state requirements, so it is imperative for the project owner to discuss with the federal funding source. The OPWC has provided bid proposal notes (see link below) which contain the necessary state requirements. Questions should be directed to the local subdivision’s legal counsel.
More Information: OPWC Project Manager page
Ohio law requires all public authorities to use a qualifications-based selection process in choosing professional design services (i.e., architect, landscape architect, professional engineer, and surveyor) or design-build services.
Ref: ORC Sections 153.65 to 153.73
Once a project agreement is released by the OPWC, it must be signed and returned within 45 days. An executed project agreement is required prior to the disbursement of funds.
Ref: OAC 164-1-21
Any surplus in assistance resulting from a project cost underrun will be returned to the originating District. If a District has an active contingency list, fund balances will be used by the OPWC to fund contingency projects according to rank.
All project cost overruns are the sole responsibility of the project applicant. However, a project applicant may request additional funds from its District for completing a project. District meeting minutes are required for the OPWC to amend the Project Agreement accordingly.
Ref: OAC 164-1-23
A project may only be funded once during its design life. However, projects may be divided into construction phases to make them more affordable over multiple funding rounds.
Project applications with delayed schedules for engineering, bidding and construction will be questioned and possibly returned for resubmission in a future program year if they will not proceed during the current program year. Generally, projects must be scheduled to be under construction by the end of the state fiscal year (June 30th) for the program year in which the agreement is released and must be completed within two years of the agreement release. "Off-site" construction for prefabricated materials may be accounted for in the construction schedule.
Projects that are being sold by the Ohio Department of Transportation ("ODOT-let") must use the ODOT sale date. Such project schedules are confirmed with ODOT and will be rejected by the Commission if scheduled into a future program year.
Project schedules are monitored by the OPWC. Failure to meet the project schedule may result in termination of the agreement for approved projects. Projects delayed for reasons which are beyond the control of the subdivision or could not be foreseen or anticipated may, at the discretion of the Commission, receive a schedule extension. Extension requests with the reason for the delay must be made in writing. Projects with delayed schedules that lend themselves to a future funding year may be terminated.
All Commission funded work must be owned and maintained by a local subdivision. Work not on public property or right of way, including water and sewer laterals, are ineligible for Commission assistance. Laterals are permitted if an easement is in place.
It is the policy of the OPWC to strictly adhere to the State's Public Records Act. All exemptions to openness are to be construed in their narrowest sense and any denial of public records in response to a valid request must be accompanied by an explanation, including legal authority, as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. If the request for public records is written, the explanation of denial must also be written.
Records are defined as including the following: any document - paper, electronic (including but not limited to e-mail), or other format - that is created or received by or comes under the jurisdiction of a public office that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of this office. All records of the OPWC are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code. Records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying, and available according to OPWC's record retention policy.
Requests & Responses
Each request for public records should be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:
Identification of Public Records Requested - The requester must identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the OPWC to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the OPWC will contact the requester for clarification, and should assist the requester in revising the request by informing the requester of the way in which the Commission keeps its records.
Method of Request & Identity of Requester - The requester does not have to put a records request in writing and does not have to provide his or her identity or the intended use of the requested public record.
Availability of Public Records for Inspection & Production of Copies - Public records are to be available for inspection during regular business hours, except for published holidays. Public records must be made available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records must be made available within a reasonable time. "Prompt" and "reasonable" consider the volume of records requested, the proximity of the location where the records are stored, and the necessity for any legal review of the records requested.
Time Constraints for Satisfying Public Records Request - Each request should be evaluated for an estimated length of time required to gather the records. If feasible, routine requests for records should be satisfied immediately. Routine requests included, but are not limited to, meeting minutes (both in draft and final form), budgets, salary information, forms and applications, personnel rosters, etc. If fewer than 20 pages of copies are requested or if the records are readily available in an electronic format that can be e-mailed or downloaded easily, these should be made as quickly as the equipment allows.
All requests for public records must either be satisfied or be acknowledged in writing within three business days following receipt of the request. If a request will not be satisfied within three business days, the acknowledgment must include at least a request for clarification, if necessary, and an estimated cost if copies are requested.
Denial of Public Records Request - Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions are to be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority.
Cost for Obtaining Copies of Public Records
Charges for public records are for the actual cost of making copies as follows:
• Paper copies are 5 cents per page
• No charge for e-mailed documents
• If the requester asks that the documents be mailed there is a charge for the actual cost of postage and mailing supplies
E-Mail as Public Records
E-mail is to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats and should follow the same retention schedule. Records in private e-mail accounts used to conduct public business are subject to disclosure, and all employees or representatives of the OPWC are instructed to retain their e-mails that relate to public business and to copy them to the business e-mail accounts.
Ref: ORC 149.43
More Information: AG website, Ohio’s Sunshine Law Manual
For every project approved by the Commission, an electronic record is created in the project management system, WorksWise. The system records include application information, Project Agreement, disbursement records, and correspondence.
Projects approved prior to 2021 were documented in paper project folders. These project folders are archived off site for possible retention or destruction.
It is strongly recommended that District Public Works Integrating Committees retain those documents pertaining to a specific program year’s slate of projects for a period of two years after the recommendations are forwarded to the OPWC. This includes district minutes and any other documentation related to a particular program year not included as part of the electronic record in WorksWise.
Ref: ORC 149.33, DAS Directive GS-D-04
Grants under the State Capital Improvement Program cannot exceed 90% of the total project cost for repair/replacement projects, and no more than 50% for new/expansion projects.
No project will be accepted that solely eliminates existing infrastructure, nor shall a project be accepted that replaces existing infrastructure with that which has a designed service capacity substantially less than the designed service capacity of the existing infrastructure.
Ref: ORC 164.05(D) , OAC 164-1-14
District Integrating Committees may select from their unfunded projects, applications to submit to the Small Government Commission for consideration for funding. The Small Government Program provides grants and loans to villages and townships with populations in the unincorporated areas of less than 5,000 in population. Districts may submit up to seven applications for consideration. All seven must be ranked, however, only the top five will be scored. The remaining two will be held should an application be withdrawn, or if needed to retain program competitiveness. If the program is not competitive, all sixth- ranked projects will be scored. If the program remains uncompetitive, all seventh- ranked projects will be scored. Policies of the Small Government Commission are retained under separate cover on OPWC's web site as part of the Small Government Methodology.
Ref: ORC 164.02(C)(1) , ORC 164.051, ORC 164.06(D), ORC 164.08(B)(1)
More Information: OPWC Small Government page
Projects that are eligible as 'standalone' or rather independent of any other project components include ADA curb ramps, signalization, audible crossing signals, railroad crossing grade, fire hydrants, signage, guardrail, and security for drinking water facilities. Water and sewer laterals are also eligible as either standalone or as a component of a larger project; however, such an improvement must involve an easement between the homeowner and the local subdivision.
Projects that are ineligible as 'standalone' are those not specific to the roadway including sidewalks, curbs, berms, shoulders, bike paths and street lighting.
The Commission uses a unique code to identify applicants, determine their eligibility as it complies with the Law, and to manage and track project information. The OPWC uses the codes created by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which were developed to ensure uniform identification of geographic entities. Subdivision codes must be secured prior to applying for financial assistance, and are needed for access to Public WorksWise, the Commission’s online portal, which is the platform used for submission of applications.
The OPWC adapted the ANSI system for legally eligible applicants for OPWC funds not covered by the ANSI such as 6119 water districts. Subcodes are assigned by the Commission at the written request of the applicant on the entity’s letterhead, signed by the subdivision’s chief executive officer (CEO), and forwarded to the OPWC director via email. Subdivisions must include documentation or information pertaining to the creation of the subdivision.
OPWC will reimburse for travel expenses incurred by consultants or contractors while performing eligible work according to the physical scope of the project as defined by the OPWC Project Agreement. Reimbursable costs must be in accordance with the OBM Travel Rule. Reimbursement for lodging, meals, and incidentals will be based on per diem rates according to the location of work activity set by the federal General Service Administration (GSA). Mileage is eligible at the state rate in effect at the time of travel. The state rate is currently $0.58 per mile (SFY 23, 1st Quarter), an increase from the historical rate of $0.55 per mile (SFY 22, 4th Quarter). Previously, the SFY 22 rate was $0.52 per mile.
Ref: ORC 126.31 and OAC 126-1-02 and OBM Travel Rule
Public officials are prohibited from having a public interest in any public contract associated with their public office during public employment or for 12 months thereafter. Members of district integrating committees may not be compensated for personal or professional services provided through contract or employment for any project considered for Commission funding by their district committee. However, a committee member does not have an unlawful interest in a public contract solely by virtue of the receipt of financial assistance from the OPWC by that member's local subdivision.
Ref: ORC 164.04(F) , ORC 2921.42(A)(1)
The minimum useful life of any infrastructure project is seven years in accordance with generally accepted engineering principles and practices. A useful life statement must be included in the project application and be stamped / sealed and signed by a licensed professional engineer. Useful life applies specifically to the infrastructure which is a hard asset.
More Information: OPWC Project Manager page
A district's annual selection of projects must ensure on a dollar-weighted basis that the individual slates for State Capital Improvement projects, Revolving Loan projects, and Local Transportation Improvement projects in their entirety have an approximate useful life of at least twenty years.
More Information: District Weighted Useful Life Calculation Worksheet
Ref: ORC 164.05(J) , ORC 164.14(C), OAC 164-1-13