On Monday, May 6, two North Royalton Council representatives provided joint testimony at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. They were representing North Royalton’s interests for potential funding to be included in the state’s next budget.
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw and Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck provided testimony before the Ohio House of Representative’s Finance Committee, who was discussing House Bill 166 on the state’s biennium budget. Marnecheck and Langshaw both noted that they felt compelled to testify before the committee in order to help promote the increase of the Local Government Fund (LGF).
According to the State Auditor’s office, “The Local Government Fund (LGF) is the main tax revenue sharing mechanism Ohio has with its local governments. Funds are distributed to counties, who then distribute the funds to cities, libraries, park systems and townships.
According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, the Local Government Fund (LGF) was created in 1934 with the revenue the state received from a new 3% sales tax that was imposed to fund the program. It is a general purpose revenue sharing program for local governments. Ohio has other revenue sharing funds, such as the motor fuel tax, but those are not general purpose funds, which is a key characteristic of the LGF, as well as the fact that the money that goes to local governments is based on criteria other than the origin of the tax revenue.
Langshaw addressed the committee, saying that “the residents we both serve and all Ohioans wonder why there are so many communities having to put more levies, bond issues and other ballot measures these days? Why are our highways, roads, bridges and infrastructure falling apart in our state? The answer is looking at you in the mirror. It is the leadership in Columbus for almost a decade that has caused this mess. Local governments historically have not been getting the funding they desperately need to address these issues in our communities.”
Cuts in the LGF have been slashed since 2011 from 3.68% to 1.66%, according to Langshaw. For North Royalton, that has resulted in a cut of over $7 million. The new budget that has been proposed by Governor Mike DeWine includes a 9.1% increase for fiscal year 2020 and a 1.8% increase for fiscal year 2021. Both Councilman state that the proposal does not go far enough, especially in light of the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which is at an all time high of $2.7 billion dollars. “It makes me sick that we have $2.7 mill sitting there when we could use that money for many things,” said Langshaw.
Marnecheck said “I am happy to take a day off to try to advocate an investment in North Royalton. Look how hard we work in North Royalton to stretch dollars. At some point, the state needs to realize that if they invest in North Royalton, it gives benefits statewide, and in the surrounding communities.” He went on to say that residents have been very patient, waiting for projects that need to be done. This type of funding would assist in allowing the city to pursue those projects. “I was asking the state of Ohio to give back some of our tax dollars. Help us bring more tax dollars back to North Royalton. . . it helps everybody!”
Langshaw concurs, “We just want our fair share. The biggest thing is every biennium budget we have to battle just so we don’t have budget cuts.” He said that they were there to tell the North Royalton story of revenue lost due to spending cuts. Langshaw noted that they were the only representatives from a municipality there to testify.
In the closing remarks both councilmen urged committee members and the General Assembly to increase the investment in Ohio’s communities by amending House Bill 166 to restore Local Government Fund back to pre-recession levels of 3.68% by FY 2021. “We understand that this won’t fully restore all the cuts the state has made since 2011, but it would be a step in the right direction to help Ohioans we all serve. We know that investing these funds back into our local communities will only yield positive results.” The biennium budget must be passed by the end of June.
Contributing Writer