Defense communities could pick up critical financial assistance for infrastructure projects which support neighboring installations under a new authority the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee included in its mark of the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill. The draft legislation would establish the Defense Community Infrastructure Program and would allow DOD to award grants to states and local governments to address “deficiencies in community infrastructure projects or facilities which are located outside of military installations but which support military installations.” The department first would need to determine the assistance “will enhance the military value, resiliency or military family quality of life” at the installation.
The language calls for DOD to establish criteria for the eligibility and selection of states and municipalities. It would require participants to contribute at least 20 percent of the total project cost in most cases; the department would be able to waive the cost-share requirement for rural communities. A transportation project, a school, hospital, police, fire, emergency response or other community support facility, or a waste, wastewater, telecommunications, electric, gas or other utility infrastructure project would be eligible for the program.
DOD would be required to provide Congress 14 days before obligating funds “a comprehensive description of how the assistance will address deficiencies in the project or facility, a certification of military need” and, if applicable, certification that the state or local agency will meet the cost-share requirement.
The department’s only existing program helping communities pay for infrastructure needed to support an installation is the Defense Access Roads program. It is designed to pay for defense-related transportation needs affecting a surrounding community if they are sudden, unusual or unique, and state and local authorities are unable to address the requirement. The eligibility criteria, however, require traffic to double, an unrealistic standard for urban areas already saddled with severe traffic delays.
The subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its section of the policy bill Thursday.
Daily Republic photo by Aaron Rosenblatt