County blind-sided by township’s push to share sales tax hike money

A resolution approved by Miami Twp. seeks to supplement diminishing funds both at the county and state levels. FILE
A resolution approved by Miami Twp. seeks to supplement diminishing funds both at the county and state levels. FILE

Montgomery County is being urged to share money from its recently-approved sales tax increase with its nine townships.

County officials say they were caught off guard by Miami Twp.’s proposal and the 0.25 percent sales tax hike that begins in October was never intended for direct revenue sharing.

Miami Twp.’s resolution approved unanimously Tuesday night seeks to supplement diminishing funds both at the county and state levels. They have impacted basic services, such as funding road improvements, said John Morris, president of the Miami Twp. board of trustees.

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“It’s been in both funding and in services,” he said. “Clearly, all governments are facing tightening of budgets and we recognize that.

“But we’ve also seen county services in terms of maintaining roadways, getting out and mowing and taking care of the roadways is not nearly to the level it once was,” he added. “And we’ve been told that is all due to cutbacks.”

Montgomery County townships “have experienced a reduction in funds distributed to them from county and state governments,” according to the Miami Twp. resolution. “Townships in Ohio do not have the authority to enact legislation to generate additional revenue via sales or income taxes.”

County Commission President Debbie Lieberman said she was disappointed township trustees did not approach commissioners first with their concerns before addressing the issue publicly.

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“In partnerships you communicate with each other, and we did not find out about this until today,” she said. “It would have been nice if they would have called us and asked, but instead they are doing a resolution.”

The county commission in June approved to generate an additional $19.1 million for the county to overcome a $9 million 2019 budget gap. Money from the sales tax hike to help fund a variety of areas, including the county-wide ED/GE program, building and equipment improvements, and workforce programs, according to the county.

Lieberman said millions in county development dollars already go to township projects and millions more sustain law enforcement and court services that benefit every county resident.

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“This funding wasn’t meant for sharing with our townships, unfortunately,” she said. “So much of it’s going to public safety: to the jail for more employees for the sheriff and for court security.”

Lieberman said local government funding to counties has been limited by state lawmakers.

“Instead of asking us they need to ask their state reps and their state senators,” she said.

The resolution asks the county distribute “5 percent of the additional revenue” to Butler, Clay, German, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Miami, Perry and Washington townships.

Trustees in Washington Twp., the county’s most populous, have not reviewed any similar resolution, said Scott Paulson, trustee’s president.

The proposal comes after Miami Twp. trustee Vice President Doug Barry — a candidate for county commissioner — helped lead an unsuccessful effort to get a referendum of the 0.25 percent sales tax increase on the November election ballot.

Barry faces current Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice on Nov. 6.

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