Townships ‘efficient,’ study says
By Ashley Luthern
The Ohio Township Association is touting a study calling the township form of government efficient and signaling it will continue to ask for more state funding.
Townships are funded almost exclusively through property tax. Cuts made to the state’s local government fund and elimination of the inheritance tax are taking a heavy toll, said Matthew DeTemple, OTA director.
DeTemple and several local township officials spoke with The Vindicator’s editorial board Tuesday. OTA is a lobbying organization for townships.
“We want to call for an increased severance tax and target it to local government,” DeTemple said.
The OTA supports increasing the severance tax, which applies to oil and gas extraction, but not Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to lower income tax at the same time, he said.
Christeen Partika, Coitsville township fiscal officer, said that money could offset the cost of training township firefighters and police officers in safety practices relating to drilling.
DeTemple said OTA also supports restoring funding to the local government fund and will make its case to state lawmakers.
“The study is meant to inform policymakers,” he said.
Wendell Cox of Demographia, an Illinois-based urban policy firm, was contracted by OTA to conduct the study, which was completed in July.
One of the study’s highlights is that townships represent only 11 percent of local government spending, but contain 35 percent of the state’s population. Also, only two of the 1,308 townships in Ohio have been in fiscal distress in the 30-year history of the Ohio’s Local Government Distress Program.
Boardman Trustee Larry Moliterno said the township always is looking for ways to be more efficient, but added that material costs, such as paving, continue to increase. In 2012, the total paving contract awarded was for $363,703.74 to resurface all or portions of 14 roads — 3.7 miles of the 144.06 miles of road the township maintains.
In 2005, the township paid less than the 2012 contract and worked on double the number of roads — $358,431.67 for 28 roads.
Still, township officials are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
“We operate under a worst-case scenario budget,” one that does not have additional revenues coming in, Moliterno said.