The COVID-19 pandemic has brought no shortage of unforeseen challenges to our state and country; but through resilience and bold leadership at all levels of government, I believe we can keep our economy moving forward. By collaborating with those who know their communities best – local leaders, residents, and small business owners – I am confident we’ll come out stronger on the other side of the pandemic.
It is clear as we move forward, local governments across the Buckeye State face financial headwinds – incurring unexpected expenses and lower tax revenues as a result of COVID-19. As treasurer, I’ve made it a priority to support our communities and to make impactful programs and tools available to local public finance officials.
Many local governments use municipal notes to fund public projects, but economic uncertainty has made it more difficult to issue and sell those notes to potential investors. Through the Ohio Market Access Program (OMAP), the treasurer’s office is helping local governments save money and fund important projects. OMAP is a credit enhancement program that leverages the state’s high credit rating to make local government bonds more attractive to investors, leading to lower borrowing costs and increased marketability.
Across Ohio, local governments are using OMAP to finance a variety of projects. The City of Wapakoneta saved an estimated $187,500 in interest costs on the construction of new power substations and upgraded transmission lines, and the Southwest Local School District saved an estimated $19,300 on the construction and renovation of five school buildings. In July, we finalized a deal with the City of Youngstown to refinance two municipal notes, which is estimated to save the city more than $161,000.
Those are just a few examples of projects facilitated through OMAP. Since the launch of the program in 2014, we’ve supported more than 180 deals, ranging from $390,000 to over $100 million. There have been no defaults, and to date, OMAP has generated more than $3.7 million in estimated savings for local governments. Any government subdivision issuing a municipal note that is in good standing, including cities, villages, school districts, townships, and special districts, can utilize OMAP.
The state of Ohio is only as strong as its local governments, and I am committed to partnering with them and supporting them during these challenging times. In doing so, we should be using every tool available to increase efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars. OMAP helps communities navigate financial markets and fund infrastructure projects while saving money in the long-run.
If you’re a local government official who is interested in learning more about OMAP, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at OMAP@tos.ohio.gov or by phone at 614-466-3511.
Though we have challenges before us, through innovative and collaborative leadership, Ohioans will get the job done.
Robert Sprague is Ohio treasurer.