Advocates for regulating the safety of manufactured homes in Ohio are urging the state senate to reject efforts by Governor Kasich's administration to gut an independent oversight commission.
Ohio's Manufactured Homes Commission, which has a $1.2 million annual budget, conducts safety inspections and helps resolve resident complaints for mobile homes, trailers and the more permanent double-wide homes.
Kasich's budget would merge that nine-member board with the Department of Commerce, which has over 800 employees, arguing it would streamline home inspections.
The Ohio House already said no.
"My concern is that it would be buried deep into a bureaucracy that is typically unresponsive," says Tim Williams, executive director of the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association.
About 900,000 Ohio residents living in manufactured homes, and Williams says if Kasich's proposal gets approved, those Ohioans would be left without a legitimate state advocate on safety issues.
Since the commission was established, Williams says they've had less than 10 home complaints over three years, in comparison to 500 complaints per year before.
The House version of the budget cut the commission's budget by more than half, to $450,000. But Williams says that won't change home installation inspections, or licensing and inspecting manufactured home parks.
"The only impact would probably be - they respond to about 1300 manufactured home park resident complaints a year, like potholes, trash, you know maybe standing water where mosquitos might inhabit," Willliams says. "And instead of same-day response, it might take a day or two in some cases to get back to the residents and resolve the issue."
Instead of having the inspections done by the health department and paid by the commission, those inspections will be paid directly by the park owner. Williams says that will save about $230,000 per year.
Now the Ohio Senate is working on its own version of the budget, and Williams hopes they'll agree with the House's plan to retain the commission. He says the numbers speak for themselves to the success of the body.
"So yes, I would be concerned if the administration took over the program that right now is an independent agency," Williams says.