Butler County state rep responds to criticism on Middletown funding

Thomas Hall speaks at City Council meeting after comments from two members.

MIDDLETOWN — The state lawmaker representing Middletown confronted some of the criticism he received from two City Council members on social media because the city did not receive any of the $350 million in state capital funding that was allocated to hundreds of local projects across the state.

State Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., addressed council Tuesday night and said last year’s council failed to properly request money earmarked for one-time improvements.

Hall said he wanted to “set the record straight” after Vice Mayor Zack Ferrell and council member Steve West II questioned why Middletown received no funding while neighboring Madison Twp., Liberty Twp. and Monroe shared $1.4 million for their submitted projects.

Then he added: “I want to be part of the solution, make Middletown the best it can be.”

Hall said he wished he was meeting the four new council members under “better circumstances.” Ferrell, the only returning council member from last year, was excused from Tuesday’s meeting.

The city emailed four proposals seven days before the Dec. 18 deadline, but only one of them, Greentree Road’s interchange feasibility study, was eligible for the one-time investment. Hall said that portion of Greentree Road is out of his district.

“You can’t get funding for the things you didn’t ask for,” he told council.

The other three proposals — Donham Plaza renovation ($2.5 million), CSO Basin Park/Plaza ($2.5 million), and Sorg Opera House renovations ($750,000) — will be eligible for the second round of funding expected to be announced in May or June, according to Hall. In total, Middletown asked for $6.75 million, he said.

Hall said notices were sent out on Nov. 1, 2023, with a Dec. 18 deadline. Before the deadline, Hall said he met several times with representatives from Madison Twp., Liberty Twp. and Monroe. He called those interactions “really positive.”

But he never met with Middletown council, he said. He only hears from Middletown when it needs funding, he said.

Hall said, “That’s a damn shame.”

Ferrell and West II wrote on Facebook they didn’t understand why Middletown was omitted from receiving any state funding. West said when he saw the list of cities that received money, it was “sickening” to see Middletown was left out.

Ferrell, contacted by the Journal-News on Wednesday, said when he contacted Hall in December and asked for advice on what the city should apply for, Hall told him he couldn’t do that because of the competitive nature of the grants.

He said Hall never invited him to a meeting to discuss the grants. Ferrell said maybe the city should spend taxpayer dollars on lobbyists as Hall suggested.

“I’ll play the game if I know the rules for next time,” Ferrell wrote in a text message to the Journal-News.


Here are the nine Butler County projects, totaling about $5.1 million, the Ohio House approved. Senate approval is pending.

  • Shuler Benninghofen Mixed-Use Project: $1 million
  • Riversedge Amphitheater Expansion: $1 million
  • Oxford Student Safety Project: $800,000
  • Madison Twp. Park Revitalization: $500,000
  • Liberty Playground Replacement Project: $500,000
  • Great Miami Trail Corridor: $400,000
  • Hamilton YWCA Domestic Violence Project: $400,000
  • Welding Lab Program Expansion in Fairfield Twp.: $231,540
  • World Class Clubs: Repairing Community Gymnasium: $225,000

About the Author