Gentile seeks more money for local governments

COLUMBUS – State Sen. Lou Gentile is seeking more money for local governments.

Gentile, D-Steubenville, said Wednesday he will offer an amendment to the proposed state budget that would increase the amount of funds local governments receive by 2.52 percent.

The increase would make an additional $177 million available to local governments in fiscal year 2014, and $184 million the following fiscal year for a total of $361 million, according to Gentile.

The current Ohio budget saw $500 million in cuts to local government funds over a two-year period, he noted.

Local government funds are those dollars distributed by the state to counties, cities, villages and townships. The money is used by the local governments to pay for such things as safety forces, garbage collection and parks and recreation.

Mead Township Trustee Ed Good said the Ohio Township Association has denounced most attempts to increase funding to local governments proposed for the current budget. That’s because the group, he said, does not believe the proposed increases have been significant enough.

But many local governments will be happy to see any additional funding, he continued. “We’ve seen a hit time and time again,” Good said.

The time has come to restore some of the funding cuts on local governments enacted during the last budget, Gentile believes.

“Communities in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio continue to struggle to provide basic services,” Gentile said. “These cuts have jeopardized the safety of our citizens and small business growth. The state has nearly $2 billion in the rainy day fund and in the meantime, local governments have been forced to lay off police officers and firefighters and cut other critical services that our families rely on.”

“As state legislators, we have an obligation to provide adequate resources to our local governments to ensure the health and safety of our citizens,” he continued. “In order to strengthen and grow our economy, we must invest in local services that enhance job creation.”

Ohio’s current two-year budget expires June 30, 2014.