Butler County villages hoping for $11.5 million in federal funds to fix infrastructure

The Butler County commissioners have nearly $75 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds they intend to share with others, and the four tiny villages would like $11.5 million to fix failing infrastructure.

The villages of College Corner, Millville, New Miami and Seven Mile, through consulting engineer Shawn Campbell, submitted a proposal to fix water systems, flooding and other infrastructure. Collectively the villages were allocated $452,001 in ARP funds of their own from the state, but say much more is needed to make critical repairs.

“While the villages are all expecting a small form of stipend from the ARP via the state of Ohio, the value does not come close to the critical infrastructure needs these communities have,” Campbell wrote. “However a small percentage of the Butler County funds would go a long way in addressing the same needs,”

The individual requests for county money break down like this:

  • College Corner: $2.4 million for water main and storm sewer repair and water meter replacement
  • Millville: $2.2 million for storm sewer repair and paving streets damaged by flooding
  • New Miami: $4.2 million for water system improvement, meter reader replacement, Augsburger Avenue reconstruction and paving
  • Seven Mile: $2.7 million for Mutton Hill and North Hill drainage, water meter replacement; water main expansions to the Cedar Grove subdivision and south end of East Avenue

The commissioners have received 13 formal requests so far totaling $66.4 million. Commissioner Cindy Carpenter has also been collecting ideas, she has a list 21 projects, a couple of the formal requests are included. The villages’ request is in her proposal but only for $5 million, “do your projects in priority order, you run out of money you’re done doing those projects.”

“I had to divvy it up, it’s not going to hurt their projects they’ll just have to find money from somewhere else,” Carpenter told the Journal-News. “The engineer that proposed the water projects, that was just a big wish list to me.”

Carpenter said the commissioners are expected to meet next month to consider the funding requests. Investments in water and sewer infrastructure are specifically allowed under U.S. Treasury guidelines for spending ARP money.

Seven Mile Mayor Vivian Gorsuch said drainage is a major concern for the village especially for homes on East Ritter Street.

“Since I’ve been mayor there are several people on that section of street that have lost everything in their house three times, since 2004,” Gorsuch said. “It’s heartbreaking. You drive down there and they’re totally under flood water up to the first window sill of they’re house, and they’re not by a creek it’s the runoff of the hill.”

The two drainage projects totaling $962,723 are their top priority. Since the problem comes from storm water rushing down the hillside from St. Clair and Wayne townships, “the solution is in the township areas it’s not in the village of Seven Mile, so it’s kind of hard for us to put the money out to work on a project outside the village.”

New Miami’s water system has long been as issue and $1 million if approved would go into updating it and brining it into the OEPA compliance. The commissioners previously allocated $203,114 for critical improvements to the village’s water system.

New Miami’s water system became a focus after the commissioners learned in 2015 the new $1 million water tower the village installed sat dormant for almost six years because of a missing pressure reducing valve.

Campbell said the four villages need to make these repairs and in some instances the projects will also help other entities, like the townships Gorsuch mentioned.

“An influx of funds of this magnitude was not only unexpected, but we also believe it to be unprecedented,” Campbell wrote. “Therefore, they would like to share in the wealth and complete projects they need but could not afford without this type of opportunity.”

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