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Legislative Resource Guide

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Introduction to the Legislative Resource Guide

Legislators are frequently asked by their constituents to be advocates for community capital projects and to assist in obtaining state funding, typically through tax-exempt bond funds, for those projects. The Legislative Resource Guide, developed by the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, is a resource to assist in identifying projects that are in a position to benefit from the state's involvement and to explain how funding through the Commission works.

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission ensures wise stewardship of capital improvement funds appropriated by the General Assembly and Governor for construction, renovation and expansion projects at Ohio's nonprofit theaters, museums, historical sites and publicly owned professional sports venues.

The Commission also offers a one-page “How Community Projects Receive State Funding” for legislators who are looking for a quick summary of the process and the Commission’s role.

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Why the State Should Invest in Community Capital Projects

Ohio is fortunate to be home to many world-class cultural facilities. Public investment in such community projects is important because they help to bolster community development.

Cultural facilities, historical sites and sports facilities all play a role in adding value to Ohio's communities when they are part of plans focused on the creative economy, education, community revitalization, and tourism. Well-planned cultural, historical and sports facilities:

  • Create jobs;
  • Stimulate commercial and residential development;
  • Encourage consumer spending;
  • Serve as tourist attractions;
  • Help communities retain an educated workforce;
  • Contribute to a higher quality of life for Ohioans; and
  • Provide educational opportunities for children and adults.

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How Projects Secure Funding

The General Assembly and Governor determine the Cultural Facilities Commission's project docket. All of the projects that are funded through the agency are assigned to it in the state's biennial capital budgets.

Community leaders and project sponsors are responsible for approaching their area's Representatives and Senators in the General Assembly to request that particular projects be considered for state funding. The Commission can assist legislators, upon request, by conducting a pre-assessment of a potential project sponsor's planning and to determine eligibility to receive state funds. Legislators interested in project pre-assessments may contact the agency's communications manager at 614-752-2770 or info@culture.ohio.gov.

Projects that are successful in securing support are appropriated a specific amount of funds in a line item in the capital budget. Eligible projects are then assigned to the Commission in the capital bill for funding oversight.

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Commission Role & Responsibilities

The Commission's role with community capital projects is to establish and implement operational policies and oversight mechanisms to ensure that the public funds entrusted to our care are spent properly. We protect state interests by verifying that each project has significant community support and a solid management plan.

The General Assembly and Governor assign projects to the Commission in the state's biennial capital improvement bills. Since 1988, more than $520 million has been appropriated for more than 300 projects of various sizes and complexities. The Commission partners with non-profit groups and local governments on these community projects. The projects are spread among 72 Ohio counties.

The Commission does not have discretionary control over decisions regarding capital funds. Likewise, the Commission does not play a formal role in deciding which projects to fund, but can assist communities and state officials in determining project eligibility upon the request of a member of the Legislature or legislative staff. A Project Planning and Assessment Guide is available for use by potential project sponsors when considering and planning a capital project.

After projects are assigned to the Commission, the Commission staff works with communities and project sponsors to assist them through the required processes. These include project management assistance, funding administration and contract oversight. The Commission's processes, standards, and legal agreements are detailed in the Project Sponsor Resource Guide, which is sent to all organizations that receive capital appropriations through the Commission.

Careful planning and supervision by the Commission additionally help maximize the impact of the state's investment over time by ensuring the projects, once completed, will operate successfully. This protects the state from future costs and liabilities that result from investing in projects that may fail.

The Commission's role with state historical facilities is slightly different from its role with cultural facilities. While the state actually owns most of these sites, the Ohio Historical Society (a non-profit entity) is contracted to operate and maintain them on the state's behalf. The General Assembly and Governor selected the Commission to provide supervision for the state historical facilities projects and serve as a bond-funding agent for them. The society is not eligible to receive state bond funds directly, because it is not a government agency.

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Background on the Commission

Building Culture in Ohio's Communities

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission is a state agency that helps enhance the quality of life for Ohioans by improving the state's cultural facilities. The Commission ensures wise stewardship of capital improvement funds appropriated by the General Assembly and Governor for planning, construction, renovation and expansion projects at Ohio's non-profit theaters, museums, historical sites and publicly owned professional sports venues.

Commission Members

The Commission consists of 12 members; nine voting and three non-voting. The Governor appoints the nine voting members, and in accordance with statute, these members are selected from various geographic areas of the state. The Commission also includes three non-voting, ex-officio members, including the staff director of the Ohio Arts Council plus two legislative members, one each appointed by the Senate President and House Speaker. To view the current roster of Commission members, please visit www.culture.ohio.gov.

Commission Staff Contacts

The Commission staff is happy to provide assistance to legislators and/or project sponsors preparing to make capital bill requests. Kathleen M. Fox, FASLA, has served as executive director of the Commission since 1993. Meetings and/or phone calls can be arranged by contacting 614-752-2770 or info@culture.ohio.gov.

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Commission Resources

The Project Pre-Assessment Tool

The Project Pre-Assessment Tool is available for legislators to request Commission feedback on prospective proejcts. A prospective community project completes the assessment form to provide basic information about the project so that legislators can become familiar with the project, its goals, and its potential to strengthen Ohio's communities. The completed form is analyzed by Commission staff and a report is generated for the legislator on the viability of the community project.

Project Planning and Assessment Guide

The Project Planning and Assessment Guide offers information and resources to assist organizations with their project planning, and leads them through the "key questions" that will help them assess their project's viability as a candidate for a capital appropriation.

Project Sponsor Resource Guide

The Project Sponsor Resource Guide is provided to all projects that receive a bond-funded capital appropriation through the Commission. The Guide assists local project sponsors through the typical process to release state-appropriated funds, including detailed information on meeting project standards, seeking Commission approvals, managing construction, and receiving reimbursements.

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Project Standards

After appropriations are made through the biennial capital improvements bill, projects that are assigned to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission must satisfy a series of requirements set forth by the Ohio Revised Code, capital bill, Commission and bond issuer (Treasurer of State) before we can release the appropriated funds to them. The requirements vary based on project (cultural or sports), funding type (bond or General Revenue Fund), and project type (planning or construction).

Cultural Facilities

Standards for Bond-Funded Construction Projects at Cultural Facilities

By statute (Ohio Revised Code Section 3383), "Ohio cultural facilities" include facilities for the public presentation of visual and performing arts, museums for the presentation of science, technology and transportation, local historical facilities, and facilities for education and training in the arts and design.

While this is not a complete list, the requirements for bond-funded cultural facilities projects include the following:

  • The property must be used for the presentation or making available of "culture" to the public, as described above;
  • The project sponsor must be a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in Ohio or an Ohio governmental entity (usually a city or county government);
  • The cultural facility must present cultural programming to the public for the term of the bonds issued to fund the improvements, normally 15 years;
  • If the project is a local historical facility or if the property is listed, or qualifies to be listed, on the National Register of Historic Places, sponsors submit their plans to the Ohio Historic Preservation Office for review and comment;
  • If the project is to be constructed on farmland, the impact must be evaluated in accordance with the Ohio Farmland Protection Policy;
  • The owner of the property may not enter into any mortgages or allow any liens to be placed on the property without the Commission's concurrence;
  • Coordination is required when the project sponsor leases the cultural facility from a third-party owner of the property. Although the property owner does not need to be a 501(c)(3) organization or governmental entity, the property owner must acknowledge and enter into legal agreements that allow the Commission to continue to use the facility for the provision of culture to the public, even if the lease between the owner and the project sponsor is terminated. The lease must also allow the project sponsor to extend the term of the lease beyond 15 years in case the bonds are refinanced;
  • The project sponsor must demonstrate regional support in the form of local matching resources. At a minimum, the local match must be equal to $1 for every $2 of funding provided by the state. (Typically, the local matches are much higher than the minimum.) The local match can include the value of the project site or facility; written fundraising pledges to a capital campaign; corporate, foundation, or local or federal government grants; certification of cash on hand or in a capital fund account; and/or new funds committed to an endowment for the operation and maintenance of the facility; or any combination of these;
  • The project sponsor must demonstrate, through a project financial review, that it possesses adequate resources to fund the project (or phase of the project, if applicable) in its entirety. A project is "fully funded" when the project sponsor can demonstrate that the funds to pay for all hard and soft costs of a project have been raised. These costs include but are not limited to design, construction, land acquisition, environmental assessment and remediation, exhibits, furniture, fixtures, equipment, construction management and other professional service fees, legal fees, marketing, start-up operations, operating endowments, utilities and other start-up costs. "Raised" means written pledges from credit-worthy entities, written funding commitments from governmental entities and/or written guarantees and/or cash receipts, or a combination of these to the Commission's satisfaction. Lines of credit, loans local bonding, bridge financing and/or other cash-flow mechanisms are acceptable only if they are backed by written pledges or written guarantees from credit-worthy entities, written funding commitments from governmental entities, or a combination of these; and
  • The project sponsor must demonstrate that the organization will have an open and operable facility for the duration of the Commission agreements. To do so, a representative of the project will be asked to certify—as accurate to the best of his or her knowledge—a business plan that includes an operating pro-forma, or equivalent, that projects revenues, expenses and debt service (if applicable) and detailed written explanations of the assumptions used to determine the dollar figures.

In addition, those cultural facilities receiving bond funds for construction projects must enter into legal agreements with the Commission as detailed below:

  • Cooperative Use Agreement— Because the state's capital appropriations are financed through long-term bonds, the Commission must maintain a long-term interest in the facility. The Cooperative Use Agreement allows the project sponsor to maintain control over the facility's day-to-day operations while ensuring that cultural programming will be presented to the public for at least the length of time the state's bonds are outstanding, typically 15 years.
  • Construction Administration and Funding Agreement—The Commission's statute allows qualified project sponsors to serve as local construction administrators, providing them with the flexibility to manage their own construction projects. When an organization can successfully demonstrate its capabilities to the Commission, it will enter into a Construction Administration and Funding Agreement, which includes details regarding construction administration services and the project sponsor's responsibilities. If local construction administration is not requested or not granted, construction administration is handled by the State Architect's Office.

After the above requirements are met, the Commission expends funds to project sponsors on a reimbursement basis for locally administered projects. On the occasions that a project is administered by the State Architect's Office, the Commission pays contractor invoices directly.

Standards for General Revenue Funded Construction Projects at Cultural Facilities

General Revenue Fund (GRF) construction projects at cultural facilities are subject to fewer requirements than those receiving bond funds. Primarily, these requirements include:

  • The property must be used for the presentation or making available of culture to the public, per the definitions above;
  • The owner of the property must be a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in Ohio or an Ohio governmental entity (usually a city or county);
  • The project sponsors must demonstrate regional support in the form of local matching resources. At a minimum, the local match must be equal to $1 for every $2 appropriated by the State. (Typically, local matches are much higher than the minimum.)

Normally, one basic agreement is entered into for these projects:

  • GRF Grant Agreement—This document provides descriptions of the work and payment and performance terms.

Standards for Planning Projects at Cultural Facilities

Sometimes communities receive appropriations for planning and feasibility studies. These projects can be assigned to the Commission.

However, because bond funds are intended for capital improvements that have a long useful life, GRF grant agreements are the preferred funding method for planning situations.

Requirements for GRF-funded cultural facilities planning projects are greatly simplified—project sponsors only are required to enter into a GRF grant agreement with the Commission.

Sports Facilities

Standards for Bond Funded Construction Projects at Sports Facilities

By statute (Ohio Revised Code Section 3383), an "Ohio sports facility" is defined as all or a portion of a stadium, arena, tennis facility, motorsports complex, or other facility in Ohio that serves as a venue for motorsports events, professional tennis tournaments, or events of one or more major or minor league professional sports teams.

While this is not a complete list, the requirements for bond-funded sports facilities projects include the following:

  • The sports facility must be owned by a governmental entity (usually city or county government);
  • The sports facility must be at least 85 percent locally funded. The state's funding contribution is as a junior partner and is capped at a maximum of 15 percent of the initial estimated cost of construction, not including the cost of land acquisition;
  • The governmental entity must present a financial feasibility study and operational plan demonstrating that the project is financially feasible, that it has sufficient funds to build a complete and operable facility, and that the facility can be operated with local resources;
  • If the project is to be constructed on farmland, the impact must be evaluated in accordance with the Ohio Farmland Protection Policy;
  • A major or minor league professional team, a national or international professional tennis organization, or a major motorsports events producer, must serve as the facility's primary presenter;
  • The governmental entity must have a long-term (20 or more year) lease with the sports team or major motorsports events producer for use of the facility;
  • For a tennis facility, the owner or manager of the facility must provide contractual commitments from a national or international professional tennis organization in a form acceptable to the Commission that assures that one or more sanctioned professional tennis events will be presented at the facility during each year that the bonds remain outstanding;
  • For major or minor league team sports, the sports team cannot cease playing most of its home games at the facility and begin playing most of its home games elsewhere unless the owner either:
    • Enters into an agreement with the governmental entity permitting the team to play most of its home games elsewhere; or
    • Gives the governmental entity at least six months' advance notice of the owner's intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the governmental entity or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.
  • For motorsports facilities, a major motorsports organization shall be liable to the state for any state funds allocable to costs of the facility if the motorsports event is not presented at the facility for the required number of years.

In addition, those sports facilities receiving bond funds for construction projects must enter into legal agreements with the Commission as detailed below:

  • Cooperative Use Agreement—Because the state's capital appropriations are financed through long-term bonds, the Commission must obtain a long-term interest in the facility. Through the Cooperative Use Agreement, the state agrees that the local governmental entity will operate the facility, while the local government agrees to present professional sports to the public for at least the length of time the state's bonds are outstanding, typically 15 years.
  • Construction Funding Agreement—This agreement includes details regarding construction services and the local government's responsibilities, and is used in conjunction with the Cooperative Use Agreement as described above.

Requirements for General Revenue Funded Construction Projects at Sports Facilities

While this is not a complete list, the requirements for General Revenue Fund (GRF) construction projects at sports facilities include the following:

  • The sports facility must be owned by a governmental entity (usually city or county government);
  • The sports facility must be at least 85 percent locally funded. The state's funding contribution is as a junior partner and is capped at a maximum of 15 percent of the initial estimated cost of construction, not including the cost of land acquisition;
  • The governmental entity must present a financial feasibility study and operational plan demonstrating that the project is financially feasible, that it has sufficient funds to build a complete and operable facility, and that the facility can be operated with local resources;
  • If the project is to be constructed on farmland, the impact must be evaluated in accordance with the Ohio Farmland Protection Policy;
  • A major or minor league professional team, a national or international professional tennis organization, or a major motorsports events producer must serve as the facility's primary presenter;
  • The governmental entity must have a long-term (20 or more year) lease with the sports team or major motorsports events producer for use of the facility;
  • For a tennis facility, the owner or manager of the facility must provide contractual commitments from a national or international professional tennis organization in a form acceptable to the Commission that assures that one or more sanctioned professional tennis events will be presented at the facility for each year in the term of the GRF Grant Agreement;
  • For major or minor league team sports, the sports team cannot cease playing most of its home games at the facility and begin playing most of its home games elsewhere unless the owner either:
    • Enters into an agreement with the governmental entity permitting the team to play most of its home games elsewhere; or
    • Gives the governmental entity not less than six months' advance notice of the owner's intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the governmental entity or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.
  • For motorsports facilities, a major motorsports organization shall be liable to the state for any state funds allocable to costs of the facility if the motorsports event is not presented at the facility for the required number of years.

One agreement typically is required for these projects:

  • GRF Grant Agreement—This document provides descriptions of the work, payment and performance terms.

Standards for Planning Projects for Sports Facilities

Sometimes communities receive appropriations for planning and feasibility studies. These projects can be assigned to the Commission.

However, the Ohio Revised Code specifies certain requirements to be met prior to the expenditure of state funds for sports facilities. If a planning project is undertaken for a sports facility, special language should be attached to the appropriation in the capital bill by the Legislature. The Commission staff can assist legislators with examples of such language from prior capital bills.

GRF-funded sports facilities planning projects typically are required to enter into one agreement with the Commission—a GRF grant agreement.

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Key Questions for Legislators about Community Capital Project Funding Requests

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission has developed a best practices model for appropriating and managing funding for the state's community capital improvement projects. The following questions are designed to help legislators determine whether a proposed project would benefit the community, and would benefit from a state appropriation in an upcoming capital appropriations bill.

  1. Does the organization have a clearly defined mission and practical programming goals, and is this capital project compatible with those goals? Do these goals respond to community needs?

    Understanding the mission and programs of the organization, and how they serve the community, helps you, as a legislator, understand how this capital project can enhance the organization's capacity to better serve and engage with the community. Learning about what programs the organization provides and how they reflect its mission, the nature of the proposed capital project, and what it is intended to achieve will help you assess the project's proposed benefits.

    Questions to help understand how the project relates to the mission of the organization and the needs of the community include:
    • Can the organization articulate a clear mission that serves the community?
    • Do its programming goals serve that mission and the community?
    • Is the project aligned with the organization's mission and goals?
    • What is the project intended to achieve?
    • Do the members of the community and community leaders value the organization and see a need for the project?
    • Is the project one that has a demonstrated need for state funding?
  2. Can the organization generate the community support, contributions, and revenue needed to complete the project and succeed in the resulting facility?

    Marshalling community support is an important step in ensuring the success of a project. Key community stakeholders can lend their influence by endorsing the project and also help the organization garner financial support. A lack of key community support should raise red flags about whether the project and organization will be able to meet the financial obligations required for the expenditure of state funds, and whether the organization will receive the community support needed to continue its operations in the future.

    Questions to consider regarding community support include:
    • Who in the community is providing visible/vocal support for the organization and the project?
    • Will the community show a financial commitment to the project equal to at least half of the state's contribution?
    • Can the organization/community identify a diversity of funding sources, and raise the funds necessary to complete construction and open the facility?
    • Will the project increase operating costs, and will the market/audience/attendance support the increased operating costs?
    • Can the organization expect to receive the contributions and revenue needed to be financially healthy for the foreseeable future?
  3. Have the planners of the facility considered the physical planning characteristics that are most likely to result in community revitalization?

    Cultural facilities can often serve as catalysts for community development or revitalization, particularly when project sponsors engage in considered planning. Locating facilities in urban areas ready for "infill" construction, in an area designated for growth, or reusing vacant buildings in urban cores and town centers is preferable when community revitalization is the goal. Proper planning will invite pedestrian traffic and spur housing, office and retail development in the immediate vicinity of the project.

    Questions to help understand whether project plans are likely to result in community revitalization:
    • Will the facility be located in an urban area or town center, or in an area specifically designated by local jurisdictions for growth?
    • Will the facility be located close to transit routes?
    • Does the placement of the facility encourage pedestrian access and complement other development or redevelopment?
    • Does the project complement the Ohio Main Street Program to promote historic preservation and economic development of traditional downtown business districts?
    • If the facility will be built on undeveloped land, what is the impact of the construction on farmland?
  4. Has the organization adequately planned for the full scope of the project? Have architectural and construction plans, project administration, true financial costs, funding, cash flow, start up, and consequent demands on the organization been adequately addressed by the plan?

    Good planning is the key to ensuring that there will be a successful project and a thriving facility that benefits the community over the long term. The more complete the planning, the more likelihood the information presented is realistic and that the project will be successful.

    Questions to consider regarding planning efforts include:
    • Are the plans achievable?
    • If planning assumptions are based on the experience of other organizations, are those organizations and facilities truly comparable cases? What attributes make them truly comparable?
    • Has a careful and considered planning process been undertaken that assesses the true costs of the project?
    • Has the organization assembled the right team, technical abilities, and schedule to successfully execute and complete the project?
    • Has the organization raised sufficient capital, verifiable pledges or other commitments to ensure that, when combined with the requested state funding, all costs related to the project, including start-up and cost of financing, are fully-funded?
    • Has the organization developed realistic cash flow projections?
    • Has the organization thought beyond the construction costs to potential increases in operating costs and increased staffing needs?
    • Has the organization taken into account the life cycle costs of lighting, heating and cooling equipment, and other building material choices, so that the project will be cost effective and energy efficient over the life span of the facility?
  5. Does the organization have the managerial skills and financial readiness to complete the project, continue to operate the facility, and meet their programming goals into the future?

    Ensuring that the state's investment goes into an organization that is financially healthy and well-managed protects taxpayer dollars, and protects the community's ability to receive state support in the future. An understanding of the organization's operational structure and a picture of its financial health will help determine its ability to successfully manage and complete the project, and to continue to effectively serve its mission and community well into the future. The organization should be able to exhibit the following characteristics of a financially healthy non-profit:
    • Sufficient income for stable programming;
    • Realistic budgets;
    • Positive end-of-year cash balance;
    • Positive cash flow;
    • Operating reserve to cover operating deficits and finance growth;
    • Capital project debt is not financed by projected revenues; and
    • Board responsibility for financial health.

    Questions to consider regarding the organization's management and financial state include:
    • Does the organization exhibit the above-listed characteristics of a financially healthy non-profit?
    • Do realistic budget projections indicate that the project will result in an operating facility for the foreseeable future?
    • If the project will cause a significant change in staffing, facility size, range of programming, operating costs or maintenance costs, does the organization have the necessary plans and management team to respond to these changes?
  6. Is the proposed project realistic and viable over the long term?
    • Is this a sound and achievable project that will benefit the community over the long term, and should the state become a partner in this project?

      This question is answered by your consideration of the information that has been provided to you by project planners. If you can review the information and feel comfortable that the organization has adequately answered the above key questions, the chances are good that the proposed project is realistic, attainable, and will have a sustainable future.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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How can a facility receive funding from the Commission?

The General Assembly and Governor determine the Commission's project docket. All of the projects that are funded through the Commission are assigned to it in the state's biennial capital budgets. The Commission does not have discretionary control over decisions regarding capital funds.

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What should project sponsors do to be considered for a capital appropriation from the state?

Community leaders and project sponsors are responsible for approaching their area's representatives in the General Assembly to request that particular projects be considered for state funding. There is no official application process, although the Commission offers a project pre-assessment service when requested by a legislator.

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Can a for-profit organization receive state funding via the Commission?

Only 501(c)(3) organizations incorporated in Ohio and local Ohio governments (usually a city or county government) may receive funding from the Commission.

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What types of facilities can be funded through the Commission?

By law, "Ohio cultural facilities" include facilities for the public presentation of visual and performing arts, cultural education facilities, museums for the presentation of science, technology and transportation, local historical facilities and state historical facilities.

"Ohio sports facilities" include all or a portion of a publicly-owned stadium, arena, tennis facility motorsports complex, or other facility in Ohio that serves as a venue for either motorsports events, professional tennis tournaments, or events of one or more major or minor league professional sports teams.

Facilities that do not fit these definitions may not be eligible to receive funding through the Commission.

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What types of projects can be funded through the Commission?

Examples of eligible projects include new construction, renovations, restorations, expansions, exhibits and planning/feasibility studies.

The Commission cannot fund projects in phases unless the result at the end of each phase is an operable facility.

The Commission typically does not provide site acquisition costs for cultural facilities.

The Ohio Revised Code prohibits the Commission from paying for site acquisition for sports facilities.

Likewise, the statute prevents the Commission for paying for operating costs at cultural and sports facilities.

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Do other agencies offer grant opportunities for operating expenses?

Commission funds may only be used to pay for construction-related costs, and in certain instances, facility planning. The Ohio Arts Council (OAC), a separate state agency, does award grants to arts organizations for operational/programming purposes. For more information, contact OAC at 614-466-2613 or visit the agency web site at www.oac.state.oh.us.

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How much money can a project receive from the state?

Cultural facilities are eligible to receive state funding up to two-thirds of the total project cost. The remaining amount must be raised from local government funding or private funding. In other words, for every $2 of state funding, there must be $1 in local resources. This is referred to as the "local match." However, in practice, the local funding is usually significantly more than the required minimum.

The cost of sports facilities must be at least 85 percent locally funded. The state may contribute up to a maximum of 15 percent of the initial estimated cost of construction, excluding site acquisition.

In all cases, the statutory maximums for state funds should not be viewed as "entitlements" of anticipated levels of funding from the state. All such funding is subject to appropriations by the Legislature.

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What is considered an appropriate "local match?"

For cultural facilities, the local match can include the value of the project site or facility; written fundraising pledges to a capital campaign; corporate, foundation, or local or federal government grants; certification of cash on hand or in a capital fund account; and/or new funds committed to an endowment for the operation and maintenance of the facility; or any combination of these.

For sports facilities, only funds for construction-related costs are eligible as a local match.

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What activities are included as "construction costs?"

"Construction" includes demolition, reconstruction, alteration, renovation, remodeling, enlargement, exhibits, site improvements, and related equipping and furnishing. Under certain limited circumstances, professional design fees for the project may also be eligible; please contact the Commission to discuss these limited circumstances.

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What happens if a project receives a state appropriation through the Commission but has not yet raised the required local match?

While the Commission encourages project sponsors to have local funding sources in place, it is not required prior to the appropriation. State law, however, does require the Commission to confirm community support in the form of a local match before it can expend state funds. In the meantime, while the local sponsor raises the local match, the state funds remain designated for the project for which they were appropriated. Typically, any unexpended funds are re-appropriated over future biennia, unless specifically changed by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor in a capital reappropriations bill.

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Is it true that the Commission requires that the state obtain a leasehold interest in projects that it funds?

Projects that received bond funds issued prior to July 2005 did have to sign a lease; however, for projects funded with bonds issued by the Treasurer of State (July 2005 or later), the state and the local project sponsor enter into a Cooperative Use Agreement (CUA). Through the CUA, the state ensures the continuing use of the facility for cultural purposes for the term of the bonds used to fund the project (typically 15 years), and agrees that the local sponsor controls all day-to-day facility operations. This differs from projects funded by bonds prior to July 2005 because it eliminates the requirement for a real property lease.

Neither cultural nor sports facilities projects that receive General Revenue Funds (GRF) are required to enter into Cooperative Use Agreements; rather, a GRF Grant Agreement is used instead.

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Does the state serve as construction administrator for Commission projects, or can the local project sponsor do so?

Local project sponsors may serve as their own construction administrators, provided they can demonstrate to the Commission their capability to do so. Locally managed construction can provide project sponsors with a level of flexibility and adaptability that is beneficial when overseeing complex construction projects.

If local construction administration is not desired, or not granted by the Commission, construction administration can be handled through the State Architect's Office.

Sports facilities are required, by statute, to have construction administration provided by a local governmental agency.

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If a project does receive funding in a capital bill line item through the Commission, how soon will the sponsor receive the funds from the state?

The timing of payments/reimbursements is contingent upon required Commission approvals and varies from project to project.

Prior to the expenditure of funds, the project sponsor must present the project to Commission members at a quarterly meeting. The members of the Commission then must vote upon resolutions that:

  • Determine the need for the project and ensure that there is substantial regional support (in the form of matching dollars);
  • Authorize the execution of appropriate legal agreements;
  • Approve local construction administration (when applicable); and
  • Authorize the expenditure of funds for the project.

For projects that have not yet met all of the requirements to receive state funds, a memorandum of understanding agreement may be entered into immediately after a Commission meeting where certain preliminary approvals have been made by the Commission. The memorandum of understanding documents the intent of the parties and details the remaining requirements that need to be met prior to the Commission's approval for the expenditure of state funds.

For some projects receiving a state appropriation of fifty thousand dollars or less, the Commission may delegate to its executive director the authority to approve the above items without appearing before the Commission.

For projects that are administered locally (see previous question/answer), the sponsor submits paid invoices to the Commission for review and approval. The Commission then processes payment of approved invoices on a reimbursement basis.

For projects that are administered by the State Architect's Office, the state makes payments to contractors directly.

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Are there fees associated with the Commission's oversight of cultural facility projects?

The Commission does not charge any fees for the management of projects assigned to it. However, projects for which construction is administered by the State Architect's Office may be subject to project management fees from that office.

As the Commission does not directly operate the facilities, all rental or usage fees generated at the cultural, sports, and statewide historic facilities are collected by and used by the local project sponsors for facility operation and maintenance.

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Can the Commission provide technical assistance to project sponsors even if the project hasn't yet officially received state funding?

The staff of the Commission is happy to provide assistance in reviewing projects for compatibility with this program. To arrange a meeting, contact our office at 614-752-2770 or info@culture.ohio.gov.

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