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Township responds to state funding cuts

November 22, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
At the Nov. 14 township meeting, Fiscal Officer Mike Kurish suggested sending a letter to the state of Ohio stating that Austintown has done all it can to stay within the local budget, yet the state continues to cut.

Kurish, at that meeting, said by the year 2015, Austintown Township will have its state funding cut by $1.5 million. He suggested a letter be sent to the governor and the state regarding those cuts. Trustee Dave Ditzler suggested asking for an audit, stating that when one is done, the state would see just how lean the township is running and has been for several years.

At the meeting, Ditzler said the township should not have to pay for the audit.

“I suggest we ask the state to pay for it since they are taking away the township’s ability to afford it,” Ditzler said.

At the end of the discussion on Nov. 14, trustees unanimously agreed to the letter by passing it as a motion. The letter was then drafted, signed by Kurish and all three trustees, and sent off.

It reads:

Dave Yost, Ohio Auditor of State

Officer of Auditor of State

88 East Broad Street, 5th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Mr. Yost,

On November 8th Governor Kasich, in a letter to the residents of Ohio, suggested that local governrnents should take the lead from state government by making "difficult decisions" to lower the cost of government at the locallevel. Austintown officials are perplexed at this statement and would like to know exactly what difficult decisions the state made that local governments should mimic.

It appears to us that the state has balanced their budget by reducing the amount of funds returned to local governments. At the township level, we are anticipating a reduction in the return of local government funds, the accelerated reduction of CAT reimbursement of Tangible Personal Taxes and the elimination of Estate Taxes.

These cuts amount to about $1.7 million annually to Austintown.

In order to appropriately adapt to these cuts in funding from the state, we see no alternative but to cut services to our residents, increase taxes to our residents or choose a mix between the two. Neither of these leads to a desirable outcome. Austintown does not have the luxury of reducing funding to a lower level government entity.

Austintown has always strived to operate efficiently and within her means. We have always attempted to provide the maximum services for the minimum amount of local taxes. Recently we have not hired for positions vacated by retirements and other departures.

Therefore, Austintown would like to inquire about having a self-imposed performance audit conducted so the state can demonstrate exactly what difficult decisions need to be made to reduce our costs by $1.7 million without compromising the safety or welfare of the residents of our community we represent.

Please forward the information necessary to initiate this performance audit as well as an estimate of its cost.

We look forward to your response to our request.



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