Ohio townships are asking to be included in funding under the federal American Rescue Plan. A terminology difference between the House and Senate versions of the stimulus plan makes it unclear if townships are considered local government entities.
Sen. Sherrod Brown and a few Ohio representatives sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary last week, asking her to clarify language in the bill to ensure townships get funding along with counties, cities and villages.
Heidi Fought, executive director of the Ohio Township Association, says the omission is likely a mistake. Regardless of the reason, she says the funding is critical for townships to continue basic services.
"Police and fire protection, emergency medical services, solid waste zoning, economic development," Fought said. "(Townships are) responsible for maintaining over 41,000 miles of road in Ohio."
Fought says 35% of Ohioans live in a township.
Local officials like Springfield Township Administrator Christopher Gilbert are waiting on the Treasury Department to issue guidance.
"Plan A is to get funding from the federal government directly distributed to townships," Gilbert said. "If that doesn't happen, then Plan B should be to lobby the state for distribution of a portion of the state funding to townships as well."
Ohio is expected to get $11.2 billion total, and about half of that goes to state government. Hamilton County is set to receive about $158 million. Commissioner Denise Driehaus says the county could share some of that with townships.
"If this continues and the townships don't get those dollars, I will personally say that it is on the radar," Driehaus said. "But we're trying to fix it before we get to that point."