Commissioner: Ohio bills threaten local funding
IRONTON -- A program that has provided more than $5 million for local projects, including school improvements and new ambulance and sheriff's office cruisers, is being threatened by bills currently before the Ohio legislature, Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Burcham said Thursday.
The Investment Advisory Committee is comprised of the three county commissioners, Burcham and Clerk of Courts Mike Patterson. In the past several years, the committee has provided low-interest bonds that have financed two new ambulances for the Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services and five new cruisers for the sheriff's office.
The existing program allows the committee to issue bonds based on funds overseen by Burcham's office. Eighteen bonds from the Lawrence County Board of Commissioners, six townships, one village, two school districts and two cities have been issued through the program at interest rates ranging from 1.5 to 2 percent for four or five years at a time when local banks are charging interest rates of 5 percent, Burcham said.
County treasurers across Ohio oppose a provision in Senate Bill 287 and House Bill 459 that requires the committee not to be the sole issuer of bonds, a move that would hamstring the committee's funding of local projects, Burcham said. He plans to write a letter Friday to local legislators in opposition to that provision in the bills, he said.
In other action, Burcham told commissioners that first-half tax collections were running about $200,000 behind the same period last year. First half taxes are due by March 7. The county collected $17 million last year in first half taxes and $10 million in second half tax collections, he said.
The treasurer's office also is sending out notices to owners of 281 parcels that they could be subject to a tax lien sale of back taxes for nearly $800,000 in back taxes, Burcham said.
The board also:
n Signed a resolution designating March as Developmental Disabilities month. A number of activities, including the annual ChiliFest are scheduled next month.
n Asked county residents to buy goods and services in Lawrence County during March as part of Buy in Lawrence County Month. The county gets 1.5 percent of sales tax revenues for purchases in the county. While one percent goes to the county's general fund, the half-percent funds emergency services in the county.
n Received and filed a legal opinion that the county dog warden has the authority to patrol and pick up dogs running at large in cities and villages in the county.
n Named Robert Calaway and Michael Boster to the Lawrence County Planning Commission for a three-year term beginning March 1.
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