By Linda Dillman
Potential changes in the biennial state budget could find Madison Township and other government entities scrambling to make up dramatic cuts in funding.
On April 15, Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Bates said the township could lose up to $1.4 million if the Ohio General Assembly passes a house bill with provisions leading to the elimination of tangible personal property (business) tax reimbursements.
“The difficulty for townships is that we only have one way to raise funds—through property tax,” said Bates.
Bates said in 2005 it was agreed that there was a need to overhaul the tax scheme in Ohio as it existed, but local governments also believed and accepted the Ohio General Assembly at its word when they were told the distribution and reimbursement scheme would be changed and entities would be held harmless.
“This has not occurred,” Bates said.
Bates said an inherent problem in the budget provision is how funding will be made up as some governmental entities are at a substantial disadvantage when it comes to making up these funds.
“Townships and special districts, such as fire districts, are limited to property taxes as their sole funding source,” said Bates. “They do not enjoy the same ability to select or utilize an alternative source of funding such as income taxes or sales taxes as municipalities, counties and schools do.”
To make up for the funding the township has lost, the department implemented EMS Billing and eliminated four positions through attrition.
“This spring we are going to the voters to ask for additional millage for the first time in 12 years,” said Bates. “You may be wondering why has it been so long? Twelve years ago we asked the voters to replace four mills of existing levies. At that time the voters were told that we would not have to seek additional funding for at least eight years. The two school districts in our township have been on the ballot frequently over the last 12 years and the township road and police departments needed levies passed to sustain those operations. When you are property tax reliant, you must choose the greater need to help stave off voter fatigue and actually be successful at the ballot.”
Bates asked state legislators to remove the reinstatement and to work with townships to establish a new funding formula.
Other township news
Madison Township Road Superintendent Dave Weaver said the township received a grant to replace and install new signs, including yellow warning and stop signs.
“I was told we got the sign grant and we’ll be able to save a little over $20,000 for signs throughout the township. We’ll be getting new signs to meet the new codes,” said Weaver.