House Bill 500 provision originated in BoardmanTweet
A bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on Friday includes a provision that originated in Boardman.
Township Administrator Jason Loree penned a section of House Bill 500 that permits townships and municipalities to set aside money for capital-improvement projects.
The bill as a whole seeks to correct legal imbalances that disadvantage townships.
“[Trustees’] hands are tied, because [townships] don’t have the same authorities [as cities] under the constitution,” said state Rep. Rick Carfagna of Westerville, R-68th, the bill’s primary sponsor.
When composing Boardman’s five-year financial plan, township officials struggled to answer the question: How do townships secure capital for infrastructure projects?
Because state law does not provide options for township capital planning, Loree sought to change the code.
His provision, though a small alteration, will have a big impact.
“We wanted to give one more tool to Ohio townships and say that rather than going to the ballot for special capital projects, if they have multiple projects, they can bundle them into a single levy. ... It provides predictability to the taxpayer,” Carfagna said.
The new language also gives townships and municipalities the ability to protect themselves by having specific funds set aside for infrastructure.
“We have stuff to maintain – whether it’s a firetruck, a police car, the road equipment – those are capital expenditures. ... We don’t have the ability to protect that funding,” Loree explained.
The provision garnered support from several local state legislators.
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, sees the provision as a mechanism for restoring local power in Ohio townships.
“I think it’s important that we give operational flexibility to township trustees. ... I think they’re conscientious and have more of a finger on the pulse of the community,” Lepore-Hagan said.
Outgoing Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, also supported the measure, but he said it does not correct larger issues with local government budgets.
“It’s good, and it gives another option or tool. But it in no way fixes the problem that starts from Columbus in the way we’re funding local governments. ... If we just adequately funded local governments, we wouldn’t have this concern,” Schiavoni said.
Kasich signed the bill Friday after it received bipartisan support in both houses of the state Legislature.
“This is one of those things that’s very noncontroversial in a business sense,” Loree said.