Chapter 3745-88 Disadvantaged Assistance
Except as otherwise provided in this rule, the definitions in rule 3745-81-01 of the Administrative Code shall apply to this chapter.
(A) "Applicant" means an entity referenced in paragraphs (E)(1) to (E)(4) of this rule that has submitted an application for disadvantaged community designation.
(B) "Application for loan assistance" means the application and any additional information necessary to award financial assistance from the water supply revolving loan account in accordance with section 6109.22 of the Revised Code.
(C) "Application for designation as a disadvantaged community" means the application submitted to determine whether an applicant meets the criteria established by the director for disadvantaged communities.
(D) "Disadvantaged assistance" means a loan to a disadvantaged community from the water supply revolving loan account with a term greater than twenty years and not to exceed thirty years or the expected design life of the project, whichever is less. The terms and conditions of all disadvantaged assistance shall be determined by the director.
(E) "Disadvantaged community" means the service area, or portion thereof, of one of the following entities that applies for and is eligible, or that the director expects to become eligible as a result of its loan project, for loan assistance under this chapter of the Administrative Code pursuant to the affordability criteria established by the director:
(1) A nonprofit public water system that operates or provides water to a community water system;
(2) A public water system that is regulated by the public utilities commission of Ohio ("PUCO") and that operates or provides water to a community water system;
(4) A nonprofit noncommunity public water system.
(F) "Economic affordability" means the relative cost of drinking water and wastewater treatment in the applicant's service area as compared to statewide benchmarks. It is determined by comparing the annual cost per household of drinking water and wastewater treatment with the most current median household income data from the U.S. census bureau. The director may use data from an annual survey of water and sewer rates if the water and sewer rates for the applicant's service area cannot be obtained.
(G) "Household income" is as defined by the U.S. census bureau and means the sum of money income received in a calendar year by all household members fifteen years old and over, including household members not related to the householder, people living alone, and other non-family household members.
(H) "Median" means the middle value in a distribution of values, above and below which lie an equal number of values.
(I) "Poverty rate" means the per cent of people who were in poverty in a calendar year as defined by the U.S. census bureau.
(J) "Pre-application" means the application submitted to determine eligibility for inclusion on the project priority list.
(K) "Program year" means a "state fiscal year" defined as July first of the preceding year through June thirtieth of the given year. For example, the 2007 program year runs from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007.
(L) "Project priority list" means the list of all eligible projects for which a pre-application for a loan from the water supply revolving loan account has been submitted, arranged in order of priority points awarded to each project.
(M) "Subsidy" means forgiveness of principal or negative interest rate for loans to disadvantaged communities from the water supply revolving loan account, as determined by the director.
(N) "Water supply revolving loan account" means the account of the drinking water assistance fund from which loans for improvements to qualifying drinking water systems are made. The drinking water assistance fund is authorized under section 6109.22 of the Revised Code.
[The survey referenced in paragraph (F) of this rule is the annual Ohio EPA "Sewer and Water Rate Survey." It can be obtained from the "Ohio EPA, Office of Fiscal Administration, Economic Analysis Unit, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215, (614) 644-2339" or www.epa.state.oh.us/ofa.]
(1) Requirements. To be eligible for disadvantaged community loan assistance for a given program year, an applicant must:
(a) Be on the project priority list or have submitted a pre-application to be on the project priority list by the pre-application deadline specified by the director; and
(b) Submit a complete application for designation as a disadvantaged community on a form acceptable by the director by the application deadline specified by the director.
(B) Determination criteria for disadvantaged communities
(1) After receipt and review of application for designation as a disadvantaged community, the director may designate an applicant as a disadvantaged community for the purposes of this chapter based on consideration of at least the criteria set forth in paragraphs (B)(1)(a) to (B)(1)(e) of this rule. Fulfillment of any one criterion does not guarantee designation as a disadvantaged community.
(a) Economic affordability. To be eligible for designation, applicants shall serve communities or populations with costs per user for water and sewer services that are greater than the statewide values.
(b) Health related issues. To be eligible for designation, an applicant shall demonstrate the presence of indicators of serious public health risks. Applicants with more serious public health risks are more likely to be designated than those with less serious health risks.
(c) Median household income in the area served by the applicant as determined by the most recent final and released U.S. census. Applicants serving communities or populations with median household incomes less than the statewide median household income are more likely to be designated than those serving communities or populations with median household incomes equal to or higher than the statewide median household income.
(d) Population. Applicants serving relatively small populations are more likely to be designated than those serving larger populations.
(e) Poverty rate in the area served by the applicant as determined by the most recent final and released U.S. census. Applicants serving communities or populations with a poverty rate greater than the statewide poverty rate will be more likely to be designated than those serving populations with lower poverty rates.
[For further reference see the "State of Ohio Drinking Water Assistance Fund Program Management and Intended Use Plan" submitted by the agency to the United States environmental protection agency each program year. The draft and final versions for each program year can be obtained from "Ohio EPA, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215, (614) 644-2752" or www.epa.state.oh.us/ddagw.]
(2) The director may also consider other factors such as unemployment, population growth, age distribution of population, and other socio-economic factors in making determinations under this rule.
(C) Loan issuance to disadvantaged communities
(1) Applicants designated as disadvantaged communities shall submit an application for loan assistance on the form required by the director in order to be considered for disadvantaged assistance from the water supply revolving loan account in accordance with section 6109.22 of the Revised Code.
(2) Following receipt and review of an application for loan assistance, the director may award financial assistance from the water supply revolving loan account to an eligible disadvantaged community upon a determination that the application meets the current requirements established by the director under section 6109.22 of the Revised Code and the improvements are necessary for the public water system to operate in compliance with Chapter 6109. of the Revised Code.
(3) No more than thirty per cent of each capitalization grant may be made available to provide subsidies to disadvantaged communities. Each amount identified for disadvantaged assistance and subsidies shall be available to be obligated for qualifying projects within the time period allowed for in the applicable capitalization grant.
(4) Designation as a disadvantaged community shall be made on an annual basis, for the program year for which the applicant is seeking disadvantaged assistance or subsidy. Applicants may reapply and may be designated by the director as a disadvantaged community in accordance with this chapter annually.
(D) Loan assistance for disadvantaged communities
(1) The amount, form, and duration of each award of disadvantaged assistance or subsidy to a disadvantaged community shall be based on the director's determination of the necessity for the disadvantaged assistance or subsidy in relation to the ability of the eligible disadvantaged community to comply with rule 3745-87-02 of the Administrative Code, comply with Chapter 6109. of the Revised Code, and the availability of funding for this purpose.
(E) Duty to comply
(1) The failure or inability of a disadvantaged community to obtain disadvantaged assistance or subsidy under this chapter of the Administrative Code in no way alters the obligation of the public water system serving a disadvantaged community to comply with all applicable Administrative Code rules governing public water systems.