“From a financial perspective of course increasing funding from whatever source is to be considered a gift, however, many times sources of funding from other levels of government include increased regulations, increased restrictions. So if we are receiving $40 million but need to spend $50 million then perhaps that financial equation is not to the county’s benefit.”
A concrete funding source that is directly tied to population is local government funding from the state. Butler County and its various jurisdictions received $7.7 million this year and those allocations will be adjusted based on population shifts.
Liberty Twp. saw the largest population jump with 6,740 new residents counted, bringing the new total up to 43,999, so it’s $499,807 allocation of the Local Government Fund will likely change. St. Clair Twp. lost 237 residents, bringing it’s head count down to 6,671 people. The township only received $61,909 from the state this year so the loss might not be sizeable.
Mike Stein, tax accounting manager for the county auditor’s office, said the preliminary raw data from the census bureau doesn’t take into account some overlapping boundaries between cities, villages and townships so simple math can’t be applied.
For example, the data the Journal-News culled from the census bureau showed Lemon Twp. has 16,885 residents and Oxford Twp. 25,469. Fehr said the cities of Monroe and Oxford must be subtracted from those townships bringing true counts to 1,476 and 2,434 respectively for the townships.
Stein said they will need more data to figure out how local government funding will be impacted.
“We will need to have all the final census numbers including the smaller villages and townships, as well as overlapping taxing entity census numbers,” Stein said. “Once we have those numbers, we will take the amount that is designated for Butler County from the state of Ohio and allocate those dollars based on (the necessary formula).”
Liberty Twp. has been the fastest-growing jurisdiction in the county for years, and it increased 18.1% over the past decade and accounts for 30% of the county’s growth as a whole. Trustee Board President Tom Farrell said the township is only about half built out and “responsible” growth, balancing residential and business is key.
“Our goal and objective for responsible growth is making sure we have a good mix of business and residential so that our residential taxpayers do not have to pay increased taxes,” Farrell said. “It’s not a bad thing to be a bedroom community, it’s not a bad word, but typically bedroom communities come with very, very high taxes because residents cost money, business makes the townships money.”
To that end the Liberty trustees have made a new Millikin Road interchange a top priority. There are about 700 undeveloped acres slated for commercial development in the Millikin Road area, and the intersection and Cox Road extension to Ohio 63 would open better access to 1,200 acres — which would hold the equivalent of 12 Liberty Centers.
With the new census count West Chester Twp. has become the largest jurisdiction in the county with 64,830 residents —surpassing the city of Hamilton by 1,431 people — the township gained 3,872 new residents. Township Finance Director Ken Keim said from an economic standpoint population growth for the township will have very little direct effect, but there are a host of indirect impacts.
“These persons will be requiring EMT runs and police protection and all the economic things, eating at restaurants and what happens to property values,” Keim said. “Directly it’s not going to be much, indirectly it’s going to be a mixed bag, there’s going to be givers and takers.”
Keim also noted population has had a big impact recently, because all of the millions in coronavirus relief funding that has flowed to the county was distributed based on population.