Commissioners support CCAO’s Stronger Counties initiative

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept. 20, 2019) – Clermont County Commissioners are joining the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) to call for a stronger partnership between state and county government as they released “Stronger Counties. Stronger Partnership. Stronger Ohio,” a briefing guide detailing county funding needs. CCAO and counties around Ohio are asking that these needs be addressed in future state budgets and legislation.

On Sept. 19, Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution in support of the Stronger Partnership initiative.

The CCAO board met on July 20 with both major gubernatorial candidates (Richard Cordray, and Mike DeWine) and their respective lieutenant governor candidates (Betty Sutton and Jon Husted) to brief them on issues confronting counties and how to work together for Ohio’s future.

“Ohio’s 88 counties serve as branch administrative offices of the state by providing vital services. Counties are given this specific responsibility but limited authority by the Ohio Revised Code,” CCAO President Daniel Troy said. “CCAO was very pleased with the meetings with both gubernatorial candidates, as we look to foster an improved and stronger relationship between state and county government. Collaboration and cooperation between the two government entities must exist to strengthen counties and improve the well-being of all Ohioans.”

State polices enacted over the last decade have placed counties in the difficult position of balancing revenue loss with escalating costs. The loss of the Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) sales tax, severe reductions in the Local Government Fund (LGF) and the phase-out of the tangible personal property tax (TPP) has eliminated approximately $351 million per year in county revenue statewide.

“Counties in Ohio have experienced one financial blow after another,” said Ed Humphrey, President of the Clermont County Board of Commissioners and immediate past President of CCAO. “The State of Ohio’s fiscal policies, including a reduction in the Local Government Fund, and the growth in exemptions to the sales tax, have meant that counties are hamstrung in their abilities to provide the services that Ohioans need.”

“To take just one example, indigent defense is a responsibility of the state,” Mr. Humphrey said. “Yet counties in Ohio continue to bear more of the expense. The state reimbursement rate has averaged 35% over the last 10 years. This fiscal year alone, indigent defense is expected to cost counties $79.5 million.”

“In addition, virtually all counties in Ohio have been affected by the opioid crisis,” Mr. Humphrey said. “This has meant a huge increase in law enforcement costs, court costs, jail costs, mental health costs, treatment costs, not to mention the impact on children and families. Counties are bearing a disproportionate share of this burden.”

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.