Explanation regarding drastic LGF reduction

I am writing as a member of the County Budget Commission to give you a straightforward explanation of why your local government funds (LGF) were drastically cut. No politics. No unwarranted criticism. But no cover-up either. Just facts.

I am not running for any office. But your elected officials are working hard to run the political subdivision where you live. The LGF money belongs to the people of Columbiana County. We are entitled to receive it and were actually due to receive it. So this just needs to be said.

East Liverpool and Liverpool Township used speed cameras to generate speeding fine revenue. The people of East Liverpool voted to stop the practice. Then the state legislature passed Am. Sub. House Bill 62 which cut LGF funds to those subdivisions using speed cameras. However, it also imposed a penalty on every political subdivision in the county — on every township, village, city and the county government. All of whom had nothing to do with the use of speed cameras.

It cost Columbiana County residents $1,350,000!

It cost Columbiana County government alone $675,000!

Instead of receiving $2,294,773.96 to divide up according to the formula approved by townships, cities, villages and county, the Budget Commission will receive a total of only $994,972.

The penalty provision is in plain English language in the legislation. State Rep. Tim Ginter voted in favor of imposing this penalty on every political subdivision and citizen of the county. Mr. Ginter should have been representing us on the floor of the House of Representatives by screaming at the top of his lungs how it was unfair to every other community in the county. Instead, he voted in favor of it. And it penalized every political subdivision in the county who had nothing to do with speed cameras. How many police officers could this help fund? How many streets and roads could this help repair? Isn’t that why we have a state representative? To represent our interests? To speak up for us and prevent this kind of outrage?

Instead of honorably accepting responsibility, Mr. Ginter disingenuously suggested to the media that the county prosecutor should review all laws that affect the county, which is totally absurd. Never once in his six years in office has Ginter asked for my input on a bill. Am I supposed to sit with him in Columbus and hold his hand to explain the plain language of every law he votes on? There is no one who knows about every law that affects Columbiana County before Mr. Ginter votes on it. State Senator Rulli — a Republican like Ginter — voted against the bill. He got it. Sen. Rulli wasn’t asleep at the wheel. It was Ginter who supported and voted to impose the penalty on us all.

Incredibly, Mr. Ginter’s defense of his vote to penalize us to the tune of $1,350,000 is basically that this was a lengthy bill and the House of Representatives considers a lot of bills. So we should rely on him to represent our interests only on shorter bills? He gets a copy of every bill presented, a Legislative Service Commission summary of every bill presented, and a Legislative Budget Office analysis of the financial impact of every bill being considered. Our state representative is supposed to represent our interests on every single bill — no matter the length and no matter how many bills are considered.

I said that the County Budget Commission is not going to allow this to be swept under the rug. The media and Commissioner Halleck interpreted this as that I was criticizing Mrs. Milliken and Mrs. Bolon. Nonsense! I never intended that. If you consider the losses suffered by every community you would see why I am outraged and why I said I was seething. Every public official should be outraged. Every resident should be outraged.

Now Mr. Ginter is speaking about “corrective legislation.” Does that mean change the law so totally innocent subdivisions like yours don’t get penalized again? I hope so. Or does that mean he’s going to get your LGF money back? We’ll see.

If they think they can really get your money back, why is Commissioner Halleck proposing to use money intended to address the coronavirus losses? Aren’t you entitled to both? Is this taking money from one of your pockets and putting it into another of your pockets? That’s a solution? Is this robbing Peter to pay Paul? Aren’t you entitled to both LGF funding and the coronavirus relief? That’s not a solution – that’s a cover-up.

Why am I speaking up? Maybe your township, city or village can absorb the loss. But there are many in the county that cannot. My voice may be the only one speaking up. I don’t know why. You are losing tax dollars and services. The county residents are losing a combined $1,350,000! Some of you have been around long enough to remember the last 35 years. We have defended lawsuits, appeared in numerous hearings in Columbus before the State Board of Tax Appeals, and spend countless hours — actually years — fighting to keep our LGF funding.

Yes, I am really outraged about Mr. Ginter’s colossal gaffe. It was his vote. He needs to own it. He’s suppose to represent us. It also should be noted that in his response Mr. Ginter never claimed that anything I said was untrue.

I am speaking up. And, I make no apologies.


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