State Senator Vows To Fight For Local Government Budget Amendment

By
Arian Smedley - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Wed, Jun 5, 2013 10:25 am

In the latest version of Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget, an amendment that would have funneled more money to local municipalities was not included, but the state senator who proposed the amendment says he’s not giving up. One local official says the news is a disappointment.

Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) recently reintroduced the amendment to the state budget that would increase local government funds statewide by 2.52 percent, which amounts to about $361 million over the next two years, according to Gentile.

When the Senate completed the amendment process and unveiled the accepted amendments Tuesday afternoon, Gentile’s proposal was not included. The Senate Finance Committee will formally accept the changes on Wednesday. The full Senate is expected to vote on Thursday.

“My expectation is that it won’t likely make it into the Senate version of the budget,” Gentile said. “So when we go to vote on Thursday, my intention is to present the amendment before the full Senate.”

The request for an increase in funding came from a coalition of local government representatives that have been advocating for an increase, Gentile added. The previous budget cut $500 million from Ohio’s Local Government Fund.

“That’s unfortunate,” Nelsonville City Auditor Sue Powell said upon hearing the amendment was not included. “When (local government funding) was cut, the governor didn’t want us to go back to the residents or didn’t want us to increase taxes and levies. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do.”

“I don’t know how much it would have meant for us, but I know it wouldn’t have been the full amount back, but it’s still critical,” she added. “That’s part of the reason we’re going for the quarter of a percent of the income tax. You can’t take everything out of the pot and still be able to pay your bills.”

As recently reported, residents of Nelsonville will be asked to vote on a renewed .25 percent income tax in November. The city auditor had said supporting the tax will be key to maintaining the city’s budget in the face of severe cuts from the state and the rising cost of living.

“We have a budget surplus, a rainy day fund that’s accumulating, and I have communities in my district that have to continually ask for tax increases to fund basic services,” Gentile added. “Our intention is to keep putting this issue out there; it’s very important.”

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