COLUMBUS -- A group that represents the interests of Ohio's cities and villages is urging lawmakers to restore local government funds and do more to assist communities battling the ongoing drug epidemic in the state.
The Ohio Municipal League unveiled its framework and action agenda for coming biennial budget deliberations during a press conference at the Statehouse on Tuesday.
"Both the legislature and the cities and villages knows it takes cooperation between them to provide all the services needed to have a healthy economy," said Sis Love, president of the Bucyrus, who also serves as president of the municipal league. "We have to rely on each other."
Among other proposals, the league wants the next budget to include a restoration of local government funding; an increase in the state's motor vehicle tax, with the proceeds covering state and local transportation infrastructure projects; the creation of a study commission to develop plans for a state bond issue to cover the costs of water and wastewater projects; and increased funding of efforts to address drug addiction.
"What we're doing right now is not working," said Kent Scarrett, executive director of the municipal league. "It's not working for our communities. There's been a tax shift from the state legislature and state taxation down to our local communities. The pressure has been fully placed on [communities] to generate the revenue that they need locally and further disengagement from the state on the fiscal side. This is not getting better -- our conditions are getting worse."
He added, "We are hopeful that this examination, this critical analysis of the issues (we're addressing) will be a catalyst for a renewed conversation with the administration."
Tuesday's event came about a week after Gov. John Kasich, in comments to the Ohio House, said the state was on the verge of a recession, with the administration proving ample warnings of a tight two-year budget cycle.
Marc Kovac is the Dix capital bureau chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.