OTA Statement on Biennial Operating Budget
Blacklick, OH – The Ohio Township Association is pleased with the final version of the biennial operating budget signed by Governor Mike DeWine. The OTA advocated tirelessly throughout the budget process, working to ensure the best interests of Ohio’s 1,308 townships. This bill contains several provisions of which the OTA was a strong supporter, and the OTA would like to thank Governor DeWine for his continued support. Additionally, the OTA applauds the members and leaders of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate for their work to support township government.
“Ohio townships provide essential services to 35 percent of the state’s residents. After numerous years of cuts to local funding or complete elimination of revenue streams, it has become increasingly difficult for townships to meet citizens’ needs,” said Matthew J. DeTemple, OTA Executive Director. “We are pleased that townships will receive additional funding from HB 166 to help fill the gap in township general funds, which have been lacking in recent years.”
Among HB 166 provisions supported by the OTA are the following:
• Language that increased the Local Government Fund (LGF) by 10.4 percent in FY’20 and 1.8 percent in FY’21 (additionally, for the first time in eight years, the LGF percentage was increased from 1.66 percent to 1.68 percent of the state’s GRF);
• Allocation of an additional $10 million to the State Auditor to help cover audit costs for townships (this additional GRF support will prevent local audit costs from skyrocketing); and
• Reinstitution of the indigent burial reimbursement program, providing townships and other local governments with reimbursements up to $1,000 for adults and $750 for children when mandated to cover the burial expenses (this amendment was sought by the OTA to help defray the often-significant costs of indigent burials, particularly in those areas hit hardest by the opioid crisis).
Additionally, the OTA applauds the work the House and Senate did to help provide additional flexibility to OTA members in managing their operations. The inclusion of provisions such as the ability to offer compensatory time to township employees will help provide or increase flexibility, all while saving scarce township resources.
The OTA commends Governor DeWine for vetoing two provisions that would have impacted property taxes, which are townships’ largest revenue stream.
“We thank Governor DeWine for striking language in HB 166 that would have treated property owned by housing developers differently than other property, and language that would have altered how property tax levy notices are written and described on the ballot,” said DeTemple. “Both of these provisions would have been detrimental to Ohio townships, which are highly reliant on property taxes.”
With the biennial budget signed into law, significant and positive changes are on the way for Ohio townships. The OTA is encouraged by the support shown from the Governor and by members of the General Assembly, and the Association looks forward to continuing to work together to support and ensure the best interests of Ohio’s townships.