I was given the following News-Herald article that caused me to follow up with Concord’s Administrator, Mr. Adam Rose. He responded promptly with an answer.
An economic development bill sponsored by Ohio Rep. John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, has been signed by Gov. John Kasich and will go into effect July 31.
The bill aims to strengthen regional economic alliances and partnerships between Ohio communities.
“As a state, we should always be exploring ways to enhance Ohio’s business climate while pursuing a development-friendly approach to fostering economic prosperity and creating good-paying jobs,” Rogers said in a statement. “The intent of this legislation is to bring leaders and decision-makers together in order to better understand the benefits and challenges of regional partnerships with respect to economic development.”
A statewide Economic Development Study will seek input from participants including county commissioners, township trustees, mayors, city councils, chambers of commerce and others to “better formulate recommendations on the sharing of resources and services and establishing a regional strategy towards economic development.”
“By building strong regional partnerships with one economic goal in mind — job growth — we can better focus our efforts with respect to economic prosperity while maximizing resources and saving taxpayers’ money,” Rogers said.
The bipartisan committee will consist of members from both the state House and state Senate, as well as a designee from the governor’s office and six nonvoting members from economic development and regional planning industries.
Rogers said that while the bill was being heard in the Senate, it was brought to his attention that ambiguity in Ohio law effectively prohibited municipalities from placing joint fire and police levies on the ballot. He said there have been recent cases where municipalities in Ohio have passed joint levies, only to be told by the state they were technically not authorized to do so.
The bill includes language to allow a city or village the ability to enact a single property tax levy for both fire and police purposes.
“After conferring with my Democratic and Republican colleagues, it was agreed that the existing law warranted a modification to enable cities and villages greater flexibility when proposing levies,” Rogers said. “The goal of improving public safety and services should not require having to propose two separate and distinct levies when one would suffice, let alone incurring a redundant cost to do so. Additionally, the bill permits those communities where such a levy has passed to uphold the intent of the voters.”
Here was my email to Mr. Rose:
There was the following article in the News-Herald dated May 4, 2018. I seem to remember that Concord Township passed a “safety levy” for both police and fire. Am I correct? If this is the case, then it appears that the Trustees did something that was not permitted by State law.
Here is Mr. Rose’s response to me:
Good morning. You are correct that we did place a Safety Forces Levy on the ballot in 2015 (11/3/15 and passed with 69% in favor). That said, please be careful not to compare a municipality with an unincorporated Township. There is a difference and the levy which was passed was appropriate. It was reviewed by the Board of Elections and legal counsel prior to going on the ballot. I also double checked with our legal counsel this morning. Our Safety Forces Levy was permitted and appropriate. The Trustees did not run afoul of State Law. Have a good day.
(LFC Comment: So in case you were wondering, we now have the answer. Townships must have much more latitude in certain areas of the State law.)