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Local officials participate in OML Legislative Day

Published By Sidney Daily News on March 28, 2023
Tim Barhorst In The News

COLUMBUS — Officials representing municipalities from across Ohio participated in the Ohio Municipal League’s Legislative Day held March 22 in Columbus. Local officials including Sidney Mayor Martha Milligan, Fire Chief Chad Hollinger and Councilmember and former Mayor Mike Barhorst were among the first to arrive.

The day began with breakfast at the Sheraton Hotel, conveniently located just across the street from the Capitol. Following breakfast, participants attended meetings with state representatives and state senators.

Sidney’s delegation was able to meet with District 85 State Rep. Tim Barhorst before he and the House Insurance Committee began their hearing at 10 a.m. Barhorst serves as vice-chair of the Insurance Committee. He also serves as a member of the Civil Justice, Families & Aging, Financial Institutions and Health Provider Services Committees.

They also met with District 12 State Sen. Matthew Huffman. As president of the Ohio Senate, Huffman serves as chair of the Rules and Reference Committee.

“The OML Lobby Day was a great opportunity for local officials to meet with their elected legislators,” Chief Hollinger stated. “The conversations between local officials and their legislators focused on matters relevant to our community while allowing the legislators to hear the concerns that matter most to their constituents.”

“One of the primary goals of the OML, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the Township Clerks Association is the eventual restoration of the Local Government Fund (LGF),” Milligan said. “Every dollar that we receive through the LGF goes back into the community to help serve the local citizenry with fire protection, police protection, various emergency services, roads, sanitary, and water services.”

“Restoring these funds will: 1) allow for the efficient expenditure of the funds by allowing local governments to direct those funds in alignment with their plan priorities; 2) maintain and expand infrastructure needed for economic development; 3) provide much needed matching funds for grant programs; 4) facilitate planning efforts for municipal capital projects; and, 5) bolster job growth and retention,” Milligan continued. “We also discussed our concerns over House Bill 1, support of funding for infrastructure projects, brownfield remediation, and equipment for police and fire departments.”

“Ohio’s Local Government Fund was created when the state sales tax was introduced in 1934,” Barhorst told legislators. “It was at the height of the Great Depression. The state sales tax was created, with the funds to be split among the counties for use in relief for the poor, for schools and for local governments to use as needed.”

“Eventually the sales tax was used for a lot of other purposes, but over time, 3.6% of the state’s General Revenues were restricted for the Local Government Fund. That fund remained in place until the Great Recession,” when Governor Kasich halved the funds, and two years later, cut them even further with the promise they would be restored when there was $1B in the ‘Rainy Day Fund’,” Barhorst explained to legislators.

“One of the problems with term limits is that the members of the General Assembly lack institutional knowledge. As a result, although the ‘Rainy Day Fund’ now has more than $3B, Local Government Funding has never been restored. It’s time!” Barhorst told legislators.

Incorporated in 1952 by municipal officials who saw the need for a statewide organization that would serve the collective interests of Ohio’s cities and villages, the OML continues that mission today. The OML is governed by a board of 22 trustees at least one of whom is a mayor of a city or village; a city manager; a fiscal officer or finance director; a solicitor or director of law; and a member of a municipal legislative body, other than the mayor. Mike Barhorst has served as a trustee of the OML since 2015, and served as president of the board in 2019.

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