Concern grows over federal funding for Ohio townships


By J.D.Davidson - The Center Square



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There is growing concern Ohio townships will be left out of federal money from American Rescue Plan, leaving a piece of local government struggling to make up for tax revenues lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A pair of state lawmakers sent a letter two weeks ago to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking for funding from the American Rescue Plan to also include townships. Another lawmaker sent a letter Thursday, this time to President Jo Biden, explaining the effect the American Rescue Plan has on townships and communities.

“While I have concerns about the level of spending contained in the American Rescue Plan Act, it has been approved by Congress and signed by you, and is now law,” Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Miami Township, wrote. “While many aspects of the law will assist the American people, I have learned troubling news that township governments may be left out in receiving much-needed funding.”

The state and local government funding from the federal bill is expected to be disbursed by early May. According to the Ohio Township Association, state townships — along with townships in other states — may not be eligible for direct funding.

“The Ohio Township Association is immensely grateful for the support our townships have received at the state and federal levels,” said Heidi Fought, OTA executive director. “Being determined ineligible for this funding would leave townships and their communities struggling to recover from the pandemic’s effects, while other local governments would receive the ARP’s immensely helpful financial boost. All of Ohio’s forms of local governments are in need of this funding — Ohio townships are no exception.”

Townships in Ohio handle road maintenance, cemetery management, police and fire protection, emergency medical services, solid waste disposal and zoning. Throughout Ohio, townships are responsible for maintaining 41,000 miles of road and 2,400 cemeteries.

“While city, village and county governments are very important and are deserving of funding, so are township governments,” Schmidt wrote to Biden. “In Ohio alone, 1,308 townships are unsure if they are receiving direct funding from the American Rescue Plan.”

More than $300 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds are allocated for states, local governments, territories and tribal governments in the American Rescue Plan.

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By J.D.Davidson

The Center Square