MOUNT GILEAD — With more than $100 billion going to local governments across the country as part of the federal American Rescue Plan, there’s concern a piece of local government in Ohio could miss out on money to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers are worried townships throughout the state are not eligible for the relief money, while states, cities, other municipalities and counties are approved for assistance.
Reps. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, and D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, have a letter to send to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging funding from the American Rescue Plan for townships across the state.
The two also introduced a resolution in the Ohio House that calls for the recovery plan to provide help for townships. It is waiting for its first committee hearing.
“The issue with this is that cities and other municipalities across our state of similar sizes are, in fact, eligible – it seems sound and just that townships should be as well,” Hall and Swearingen wrote in the letter. “We have over 1,300 townships in Ohio that work diligently to provide support and services including road maintenance, medical assistance, waste disposal, police and fire protection and other duties that benefit communities and Ohio families.”
The two legislators believe specific language within the plan, “nonentitlement unit of local government,” could eliminate townships.
More than $300 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds are allocated for states, local governments, territories and tribal governments, but the certainty for township governments remains unclear.
“The Ohio Township Association is immensely grateful for the support our townships have received from federal, state and local leaders,” said Heidi Fought, Ohio Township Association executive director.
“All of Ohio’s forms of local government are in need of this funding – Ohio townships are no exception. Being determined ineligible for this funding would leave townships and their communities struggling to recover from the pandemic’s effects, while other local governments would benefit from the ARP’s financial boost.”