Ohio (WTRF) – Millions of dollars in federal relief funding is finally coming to Ohio’s townships. It just needs a signature from Governor Mike DeWine.
The issues with townships receiving the relief money seemingly came down to one definition, a “non-entitlement unit of local government”, which the majority of Ohio’s 1,308 townships are because they serve less than 50,000 people.
That language was taken out of the original American Rescue Plan legislation. Instead the federal government determined it was up to individual states to determine if townships were eligible.
Townships is one of the most efficient, effective form of government there is, especially in the state of Ohio.Ed Good, Mead Township Trustee, Ohio Township Association Board of Directors
The Ohio General Assembly sees their value too, which is why it passed House Bill 168, meaning townships will get their relief money.
However, the legislation went through some changes. It was originally part of Senate Bill 111.
On the House floor, there were some amendments added related to vaccines that were a little bit more controversial that the Senate either didn’t want to concur on or didn’t want to take up at that time. So, rather than making a decision on that bill they simply took the base with the funding in it and moved it to another to move that forward while they debated the other provisions separately.Marisa Myers, Director of Governmental Affairs, Ohio Township Association
Then the bill was passed and now waits for a signature from Governor DeWine.
We really feel that they have finally been included in the pot of money that they should have been in originally. That was the intention of the bill is to provide local relief. That would have been four million Ohioans who live in townships that wouldn’t’ have had access to this money.Marisa Myers, Director of Governmental Affairs, Ohio Township Association
The Ohio Township Association lobbied for this for several months. They explain that now these non-entitlement forms of local government in Ohio will be sharing $844 in American Rescue Plan funds, split by population size.
However, only $422 million is included in this bill because it will be split into two allotments.
The state has to be a pass-through for those funds and that’s everybody under 50,000. So, cities, villages and townships, everybody under 50,000 will go through the state. The other larger entities like the counties and the metro cities they got their allocation directly from treasury.Marisa Myers, Director of Governmental Affairs, Ohio Township Association
In Ohio, there are a lot of rural townships, but some are much larger.
Townships really run the gamut too. We have some townships that are around 65,000 in population. They’re huge.Marisa Myers, Director of Governmental Affairs, Ohio Township Association
There are only seven states that have the township form of government, so all of the population in all these other areas would have been counted into the county allotment or the state allotment, but again in the state of Ohio with the form of townships government we have that was not the case. We’re considered non-entitlement entities.Ed Good, Mead Township Trustee, Ohio Township Association Board of Directors
Local townships tell 7News how they use these funds will be more restrictive than past relief, but they have a plan.
Whether that can also mean hotspots that we can use some of this funding for hotspots. The residents in the townships have let us know, you know that they need broadband expansion, and we agree. Especially with today’s world. Especially after the pandemic or during the pandemic, whether it comes to applying for unemployment benefits or what have you. Broadband is a necessity today.Ed Good, Mead Township Trustee, Ohio Township Association Board of Directors
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who pushed for townships inclusion at the federal level, agrees the spending decisions should be made locally.
The Mayor of Bellaire, the Mayor of Steubenville, the Mayor of Wintersville know better that their communities need so, to me, make the dollars available. Let the school district or the township trustees or the city council or the village council, the county commissioners make these decisions.”)Senator Sherrod Brown, (D) Ohio
Once Governor DeWine signs the bill, townships will have 60 days to register for the relief money. He is expected to sign it on Tuesday.
It’ll come in two payments. The first initially, and then another in about 12 months.
Stay with 7News for any new developments.