“Once the federal government has decided to spend money, we need to make certain that we get our fair share,” he said. “And getting our fair share means including these townships and all of the people that live there.”
Butler County communities were allocated an estimated $147 million, including nearly $75 million for the county government. Other payments to local governments range from $36.2 million for Hamilton to $10,000 for tiny Jacksonburg.
The 13 townships get none of that funding in the current plan, but in a document released after the House passed the measure, township estimates were included. Ross Twp. was targeted either $1.6 or $2 million in funding, depending on the calculation.
Township Board President Tom Willsey said “for the federal government to overlook that is kind of disheartening to me.”
“It’s one of those things where we do so much with so little for so long that they expect us to do everything with nothing,” Trustee Board President Tom Willsey said. “Township government is a vital cog in everyone’s every day life... Our expenses are the same as everybody else.”
The restrictions in the ARP are not as strict as the rules for the federal CARES coronavirus relief that was distributed last year at the height of the pandemic.
Now the townships are battling for funds. Liberty Twp. was penciled in for $7.3 to $8.8 million before the final bill passed.
“Municipalities, cities, states are going to be stretching this thing to spend money on stuff that is grossly unrelated to COVID,” Liberty Trustee Steve Schramm said. “It’s just going to be windfall cash to spend on whatever. So I guess if I’m selfish I ought to say great, can’t we come up with something for Millikin Road. I don’t know how to play this as a conservative any longer, because it’s just ludicrous.”
At this point the ball is in Yellen’s court. When jurisdictions were having a tough time spending all their money from the $2 trillion CARES act within the constraints of that legislation, the Treasury relaxed the rules and allowed some of the money to be spent on salaries of governmental employees who are “substantially dedicated” to battling the virus.
Jurisdictions are still sorting through exactly what the restrictions on the new money are but there are two distinct prohibitions. States can’t use it to shore up failed pension systems or for offsetting tax cuts.
Ohio Sen. George Lang told the Journal-News while they are working with federal lawmakers to solve the township exclusion problem, some in the state legislature are considering eschewing the $11.2 billion it might receive.
“There’s a chance we in Ohio won’t accept any of it because there is another string attached to it, that said if you accept any of this money you cannot lower taxes,” Lang said. “We have been working on a tax decrease for all citizens of Ohio behind the scenes for a bout six months.”