State senator discusses capital budget with county

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Commissioners met with State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) of Ohio’s 17th District to discuss the potential of funding local projects through the General Assembly’s capital budget bill.

The capital budget focuses on the most pressing needs of state government, schools and economic development within Ohio’s communities. It is a collaborative process involving state and local leaders, the economic development community, the arts community, and others to provide guidance on local investments, while balancing the state’s need for fiscal restraint and responsibility.

In the last year, money was used to fund a livestock processing facility in Gallia as well as Gallipolis City Park memorial restoration efforts, the Ariel Opera House’s renovations and more.

“In general, jails don’t qualify,” said Peterson. “It has to have a connection to the state of Ohio. We’ve done that and made connections with community colleges and job and family services. There is a park and recreation segment that’s easy to fund and an arts segment.”

Peterson said he loved and hated the bill as some projects were easier to fund than others.

Gallia Commissioners acknowledged the strengths of the bill but shared concerns with Peterson that they felt the state continually asked small government to make more with less. Commissioners have expressed concern in previous meetings with jail overcrowding and funding inmate health matters. Commissioners have further expressed concern with a potential state policy change asking local governments to house fourth and fifth-degree felony offenders instead of being sent to prison.

Peterson said he would take concerns before the Senate.

Commissioner David Smith listed among his concerns loss of funding with the MCO sales tax controversy that would see Gallia lose around $600,000 in funding.

According to Gallia Commissioner Harold Montgomery the county will need to take into account a loss in $600,000 per year from tax which would have been gathered from an MCO sales tax which has been discussed at length with some controversy over the better course of a year. The Ohio Senate eventually decided to not override a veto of Gov. John Kasich to eliminate the MCO sales tax monies which were taken in by county governments. However, Gallia County has been given a one time stipend of around $900,000 to make up for the $600,000 loss.

Smith said while the money would certainly help the general fund, the lack of the yearly funding which the county previously counted on would make operations harder.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.

By Dean Wright