COLUMBUS – The Ohio Municipal League and municipal officials in over 20 cities and villages throughout Ohio held a press conference Tuesday to announce the release of a Strategic Framework and Action Agenda for Ohio’s municipal sector. This analysis argues that the municipal sector is the state’s primary engine of economic growth and, therefore, it is essential that state policy makers focus on a number of specific policies that would revitalize the state-municipal partnership.
Urbana Mayor Bill Bean participated in the press conference.
The report was created in consultation with Dr. R. Gregory Browning, President, Capital Partners, who is a former Budget Director for the State of Ohio under Governor George Voinovich.
Due to decreases in local government revenues throughout recent years, a confluence of forces have pushed municipalities to delay infrastructure maintenance, repair and upgrading, replace full time employees with part-time employees and outsourcing, lower investments in public health and safety and drug fighting efforts, reduce investments in economic development; and increase municipal taxes and fees.
In response, the league specifically proposes in the report that during the 2017-2018 Legislative Session the General Assembly:
1. Phase-In restoration of Local Government Fund (LGF) to strengthen municipalities and their regional economic competitiveness
2. Increase the state motor vehicle fuel tax to address growing backlog and growing need for new state and local transportation infrastructure projects in a state with low ratings of the condition of its transportation system
3. Develop a State/Local Infrastructure Study Commission to propose a right-sized state bond issue for non-transportation infrastructure, including billions of dollars of identified clean water and wastewater projects
4. Guard against new unfunded state mandates and home rule erosions and seek more flexibility for municipalities to raise additional local revenues
5. Resolve Medicaid related health insuring corporation sales tax termination (6.30.17) fully for state (-$550m/year) and local (-$200m/year) governments without cuts to local government
6. Address the state’s opioid epidemic effectively by providing assistance to municipalities, which are on the front lines of addressing this costly crisis and create state drug addiction task force and an Ohio Public Safety Action Fund to help finance policy and program level solutions
“The League’s Strategic Framework and Action Agenda represents a renewed effort to better understand and address key policy and economic issues impacting Ohio’s cities and villages and to do so with the direct and substantive input of our members.” said Executive Director of the OML Kent Scarrett. “This analysis argues that because the municipal sector is the state’s primary engine of economic growth, it is essential that state policy makers focus on revitalizing the state-municipal partnership.”
‘Renewed effort to communicate’
“This is an exciting project that represents a renewed effort to communicate to Ohio state officials the needs of local communities” said Mayor Sis Love, President of the OML Board of Directors and Council President for the City of Bucyrus said. “We hope this project will provide a basis for further discussions, as we believe the better state officials understand this problem, the more they can do to address it.”
“I became interested in this project because our community, like so many others we have spoken with, has struggled with infrastructure and job development,” said Councilman Rap Hankins of Trotwood. “The cuts to the local government fund and other revenue hits have forced us to reduce the number of police officers and firefighters, cut back on road repairs, and delay implementation of economic development projects, all of which really hurt our ability to provide public safety and infrastructure.”
Various officials and parties featured at the press conference included Council President & OML President Sis Love; Mayor Scott Schertzer, Marion; Mayor Mike Barhorst, Sidney; Mayor Bill Flaute, Riverside; Mayor April Burke, Rutland; Mayor David Mathew, Dresden; Mayor Earl Leiken, Shaker Heights; Mayor Chase Ritenauer, Lorain; Mayor Bill Bean, Urbana; Manager David Collinsworth, Westerville; Manager Ted Staton, Upper Arlington; Manager Tom Moeller, Maderia; Manager Greg Horn, Centerville; Councilman Rap Hankins, Trotwood; Manager Matt Greeson, Worthington; Keary McCarty, Exec. Dir. Ohio Mayors Alliance; Brian Humphress, Exec. Dir. Dayton Area Mayors & Manager’s Assoc.; Lisa Barno, Exec. Dir. Northeast Ohio Mayors & Managers Assn.; Jack Jensen, Exec. Dir. First Tier Suburbs Assn.
The Ohio Municipal League is a non-profit, non-partisan association that represents the collective interest of Ohio cities and villages before the Ohio General Assembly and the state elected and administrative offices.