At a recent meeting of the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association, hundreds of county leaders got an overview of the state’s newest financing tool from a group of leaders who worked to pass Kentucky’s P3 law.
Led by Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson, a panel talked candidly about the opportunities and the pitfalls that can come with public projects supported with private-sector dollars. They touted Kentucky’s law as one of the nation’s most expansive and modern – with mandates for transparency, oversight and formal processes that protect citizens.
Many communities have been discouraged from even thinking about significant public infrastructure investments because of economic challenges and limited funding, said Ron Wolf, director of external relations with Associated General Contractors of Kentucky.
“P3 allows you to take off the blinders and see possibilities that weren’t visible before,” Wolf said.
Private and public sector investors are interested in being part of public projects because government agencies often provide more stable, reliable returns on investment than private sector projects, said Patrick Hughes of DBL Law.
“They like guaranteed revenues for a long time,” Hughes said.
Projects need to be sizeable to attract the interest of private sector investors, the panelists agreed. But they aren’t limited to big-city investments like bridges and sports stadiums. They can be bundled rural projects, such as downtown revitalizations that include parking structures, government offices and private businesses, or even regional investments that cross city and county lines.
“Water and sewer systems are ideal for P3 investment,” said Warren Rogers, president of W. Rogers Co., a construction leader for public sector projects. “Kentucky has over 400 water providers with aging infrastructure and growing needs. P3 can help a group of regional providers consolidate their investments and drive down costs of improvements.”