Daily Court Reporter - News Townships commend lawmakers on transportation budget bill
Townships commend lawmakers on transportation budget bill
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
The centerpiece of the state's transportation budget, a 10.5 cent per gallon increase in the state's gasoline tax, appears to have satisfied an overwhelming number of the state's political class - just as many Republicans are content with the outcome as their Democrat counterparts and the same goes for local governments.
Filed as House Bill 62, the measure calls for investment of $140 million into the state's public transit systems over the next two years and giving local communities a 12.5 percent increase for their share of new gas tax revenue, an expected windfall of over $700 million during the next two years.
The gas tax hike along with a 19 cent increase on diesel becomes effective July 1.
The Ohio Township Association announced its support of the bill after it cleared both houses, characterizing it as legislation that prioritizes provisions for townships across the state and provides vital funding for the state's transportation infrastructure.
The bill contains priorities for which the OTA advocated consistently, providing Ohio townships support to continue serving their residents and avoiding the loss of transportation funding that was previously anticipated, a prepared statement detailed.
"We place immense value on our partnerships with Gov. Mike DeWine and members of the Ohio House and Senate, and we thank them for the provisions they included in this bill for Ohio townships," OTA Executive Director Matthew DeTemple said. "Through their support, funding will be directed toward the maintenance of over 41,000 miles of township roads, among other significant provisions that we value highly."
Appealing to townships are the following provisions:
55 percent/45 percent split between the state and local governments;
Use of the 2003 township revenue distribution method that allocates the greater of a flat rate to all townships or a formula based on road miles and vehicle registrations;
The ability for townships to levy an additional, permissive $5 license fee;
The ability for joint ambulance districts to enter into lease-purchase agreements; and
The ability for local officials to simultaneously serve on Transportation Improvement District boards.
The association representing the state's boards of county commissioners was equally complimentary of DeWine's push for the tax hike.
"As an elected official, it is difficult to raise revenues, but (this) action was necessary to help keep Ohio economically competitive," County Commissioners Association of Ohio President Julie Ehemann said.
In addition to DeWine, the group extended its appreciation to Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, Minority Leader Kenny Yuko and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, as well as the members of the conference committee and lawmakers who provided leadership and support.
Other provisions of the law require CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles to pay the same rate as diesel, subject to a five-year phase-in, and introduce a new $100 fee on hybrid vehicles and $200 for electric vehicles.
The legislation calls for creation of an Emergency Snowfall Fund for communities that receive 18 or more inches during a single snow event and it eliminates the requirement to display a front license plate.
"These provisions emphasize the importance of local government and help restore needed resources to Ohio's 1,308 townships," OTA Board President Connie Fink added.
Both organizations lobby on behalf of their members - Ohio political subdivisions, promoting effective government, advocacy and awareness.
DeWine signed the bill, enacting it without any line-item vetoes, Wednesday, April 3rd.
Date Published: April 29, 2019