Local jurisdictions have 51 levies on the ballot in the area. Local officials say the tax increases are needed to make up for state funding cuts. How should local governments address funding shortfalls?

Through my experience as a Council member, I have seen the negative impacts of reducing the local government fund by approximately 50% for Ohio’s cities and villages. This situation has driven municipalities to pursue levies to continue supporting vital public services such as youth programs, local policing and economic development. Local governments must operate efficiently to control costs, but fiscal responsibility includes a social aspect that sustains community and enhances quality of life. Cutting services is not the answer, and state elected officials should facilitate local government decision making, which is much more effective in addressing the real needs of people. Levies are a band-aid highlighting the need for better state policy that redirects taxpayer dollars to local jurisdictions that are in a better position to spend them appropriately. The ‘rainy day’ fund, built up by shifting dollars away from municipalities, is an initial source to address funding shortfalls; however, the true focus of state legislators needs to be on implementing policies that promote economic development and generate commerce for Ohio. A collaborative approach to solving these problems will ensure that Ohio’s assets reap their full benefits.

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