Ohio’s cities have seen about $450 million in cuts to their local government funds under Gov. John Kasich. The Ohio Municipal League, a lobby group that represents cities, is looking forward to establishing new relationships with Governor-elect Mike DeWine and the incoming legislature.
Mike Barhorst, the mayor of Sidney in western Ohio, wants to make sure state leaders know many cities are in dire financial condition because of those funding cuts. Take Ironton for example, he says.
“The mayor there has told me they have one-third of their people working, one-third who are retired and one-third who are on social welfare programs,” Barhorst says. “It’s not a sustainable model.”
Barhorst says the group wants to focus on infrastructure needs in cities.
“When you look around the city and see the potholes and see the failing infrastructure…. If I were a business looking to relocate, I want to go somewhere where I know I’m not going to fall in a pothole that’s so big that it is going to swallow my car, truck, whatever," Barhorst says.
DeWine has made no promise of restoring those funds. Speaking to a gathering of the County Commissioners Association and the County Engineers Association earlier this week, he offered only to be a “good partner” with local governments.
“I was very careful during the campaign not to say that I’m going to restore the local government fund to a certain level,” DeWine said.