Eastern Ohio Regional Hospital seeks funds to upgrade building | News, Sports, Jobs

Ty Compton, a representative for the law firm Bricker and Eckler, and Chris Jones of Ohio’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program recently told Martins Ferry City Council that the East Ohio Regional Hospital is seeking funding to bring improvements to his building.

City attorney Paul Stecker introduced Compton and Jones, who came to talk about the Property Assessed Clean Energy funding program and what triggered it.

“The hospital is doing a few projects and wants to use PACE funding, and that will require legislative action on our part,” Stecker told the council, adding that Compton and Jones were there to explain the program and answer questions.

Jones said Ohio was one of the first of 20 states to authorize legislation 12 years ago allowing local governments to create a “special energy improvement district.”

This allows commercial building owners to improve various energy-related areas, such as renewable energy, for example, to make improvements to their buildings.

“OHIO PACE is a program administrator that works with landowners to secure PACE funding for qualified energy projects. It coordinates efforts with local governments and connects owners with capital providers and PACE private contractors to ensure the successful financing and installation of energy projects,” says ohpace.org.

Bernie Albertini, administrator of EORH, said work had already begun on several projects, including air conditioning, lighting, new boilers, windows and a new roof.

“Everything is rated on energy efficiency,” Albertini said, which is what PACE is geared towards.

He added that the boilers have most of the work to do, but the lighting is about 80% complete and the windows and roof are about 25%.

Regarding the PACE request, Jones said the EORH would ask the city for a special assessment “to place on their property tax to pay off the original PACE loan for these energy efficiency improvements.”

Jones said the assessment will only be placed on hospital property and will not affect any other ratepayers in the city.

The hospital’s petition, which includes details of the project, would be submitted to the board for approval.

“This will include, again the PACE special assessment … the financial terms, and then the city council will approve the actual assessment, the levy of those assessments, which in turn will certify to the county auditor’s office,” said Compton.

Once the project has been determined to be eligible for PACE funding, the special assessment is then added to the property’s tax bill.

“It will have no direct effect on property owners in the tax district or the town of Martins Ferry,” Jones said, which Compton confirmed. He also confirmed that there will be no cost to the city or residents for their property, in response to a question from Director of Services Andy Sutak.

When Councilwoman Suzanne Armstrong asked why city approval would be needed, Compton said there were “private PACE lenders who will provide long-term financing.” If long-term financing is attached, these private lenders should have good security, and the special valuation “is the security that created this PACE financing market, not just in Ohio but across the country,” a- he declared.

“And so, obviously, as a private tax authority, you are the only ones who can approve this special assessment,” Compton explained.

“Anything that has an energy-saving component could be eligible for the PACE program,” Compton said, citing examples such as roofs, windows or solar panels.

Stecker added that it is essentially a “public-private partnership” in which private parties provide funding but are reimbursed through a special levy.

“So instead of paying off your loan, your property taxes go up on that particular parcel and they pay the increased property taxes, and then the county pays the funder,” Stecker said.

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