At a press conference this morning, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) called for a stronger partnership between state and county government as they released “Stronger Counties. Stronger Partnership. Stronger Ohio.,” a briefing guide detailing county funding needs and asks that need to be addressed in future state budgets and legislation.
The CCAO board met this past Friday with both major gubernatorial candidates (Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine) and their respective lieutenant governor candidates (Betty Sutton and Jon Husted) to brief them on issues confronting counties and how to work together for a bright Ohio future.
“Ohio’s 88 counties serve as branch administrative offices of the state by providing vital services. Counties are given this specific responsibility but limited authority by the Ohio Revised Code,” CCAO President Daniel Troy said. “CCAO was very pleased with the meetings with both gubernatorial candidates, as we look to foster an improved and stronger relationship between state and county government. Collaboration and cooperation between the two government entities must exist to strengthen counties and improve the well-being of all Ohioans.”
State polices enacted over the last decade have forced counties in the difficult position of balancing revenue loss with escalating costs. The loss of the Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) sales tax, severe reductions in the Local Government Fund (LGF) and the phase out of the tangible personal property tax (TPP) has eliminated approximately $351 million per year in county revenue statewide.
“The state’s revenue policy decisions, coupled with our growing costs, have created an environment where many counties have had to deplete reserves, delay capital projects and struggle to provide the services that Ohioans need. In many instances, while the state was cutting taxes, counties were forced to raise taxes to continue their state mandated functions,” said CCA0 1st Vice President Julie Ehemann.
Furthermore, exploding costs associated with the opiate epidemic are crippling justice and public safety budgets, and indigent defense reimbursement from the state continues to go down while expenses continue to rise.
“Counties, acting on behalf of the state, must have the state’s financial commitment to ensure that county revenue streams correspond to the services they are mandated by the state to provide. County challenges have increased significantly, and a stronger partnership between state and county government is critical to the quality of life and prosperity of Ohio and its citizens,” CCAO Executive Director Suzanne Dulaney said.
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.