DAYTON, OHIO—On Wednesday March 31st, Congressman Mike Turner held a virtual meeting with local township officials to discuss necessary resources to overcome the pandemic, including the urgent need to clarify a provision in President Biden’s stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan, that does not guarantee their eligibility to receive new relief funds.
Several bipartisan COVID relief bills supported by Congressman Turner strengthened the Dayton region and the state of Ohio. The CARES Act and subsequent coronavirus relief aid allocated $177 million to Ohio townships statewide. Now, access to funds for Ohio townships is in jeopardy due to unclear language in the American Rescue Plan.
After Ohio township officials expressed their concerns to Rep. Turner, Congressman Mike Turner joined Senator Rob Portman and Ohio congressional members in advocating with the U.S. Treasury Department to change this. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, they stated in part: “We write to seek urgent clarification on funding eligibility for townships in the State of Ohio. It has come to our attention that language included in the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2) brings into question whether Ohio townships are eligible for the state and local funding authorized in the bill.”
Following the virtual meeting, Congressman Turner released the following statement:
“President Biden’s stimulus package could exclude Ohio townships due to a provision that does not expressly include townships as eligible for relief funds. This is unfair and unacceptable, as more than 1,300 Ohio townships provide essential support for Ohioans, including police and fire protection, road maintenance, and emergency medical services,” said Turner. “I joined a bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers in contacting Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen to emphasize how critical it is that our townships don’t get left behind due to an interpretation of a poorly crafted statute. I have supported bipartisan bills that allocated over $177 million to Ohio townships, and I will continue to advocate for our local townships so that they may be eligible for further COVID relief.”
Heidi Fought, Executive Director of Ohio Township Association, stated:
“As we ask Secretary Yellen to consider our townships eligible for direct ARP funding, we appreciate the continued, invaluable support expressed by Congressional leaders and our other state and federal partners,” said Heidi M. Fought, OTA Executive Director. “The language change that may have made townships ineligible for direct ARP funding will affect every single one of Ohio’s 1,308 townships and at least four million Ohioans. Townships are in need of this pandemic-relief funding just as much as other forms of local government.”
John Morris, President of the Montgomery County Township Association and Miami Township Trustee, added:
“As all forms of government emerge from the 2020 pandemic, Ohio's Townships are facing the same negative economic impacts as Cities and Counties. In difference however, Townships are not afforded the same tools of taxation to bridge their gaps in revenue so the result can only be a reduction in services. The American Rescue Plan Act was created to assist local governments in their time of need, but by excluding Townships from receiving these funds, this Act will simply work to make the rich richer and poor poorer,” said Morris, President of the Montgomery County Township Association.
In addition to leaving behind townships, several Governors, including Governor Mike DeWine, have criticized the American Rescue Plan for an unfair Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) formula change that hurt states like Ohio. The formula disproportionately factors in the unemployment rate near the end of 2020 into the calculation of funding, a time when several states were reopening their economies. Ohio had an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in December of 2020, while the rate nationally was 6.7 percent. Instead of being rewarded for safely reopening its economy, Ohio will receive less funding.