Sharing Services and Governance Reform in Ohio

By Gene Krebs. Senate Bill 125 would allow all local governments to share services through a Council of Government.  This is a good idea, but should be viewed as only a start to deal with our larger problems.  Sharing services requires willpower at the local level, which is like my diet; it works until I see chocolate cake.  I am testifying in support of SB 125 today.

We no longer live where we shop, live where we work, or work where we shop, but our whole system of governance and taxation is predicated on you conducting all your economic activity within five miles of where you live.  Our local governments expect you to conduct a mixed balance of your activities within their governmental entity.  However, this is no longer the reality in which we live; we live in a regional economy and our governance structures need to adjust to this change.

Ohio ranks 33rd highest in state tax obligation and 6th highest in local tax obligation.  SB 125 could result in lower local taxes. Furthermore, Ohio has 41.3 local governments per county, and the national average is only 27.9.  Becoming average would be an improvement.  Our excessive amount of local governments drives up our cost of doing business.  Sharing services would reduce these costs.

The only silos Ohio should have are located on our farms, yet unfortunately every governmental entity has their own funding silo, often from a different economic activity, and often with a local ballot funding mechanism.  This leads to ballot exhaustion for the citizens and a fracturing of tax transparency and accountability.  This separation of economic activity from our domicile is why school funding does not work in much of Ohio, for example.

For more information on this topic, please see our Sales Tax Analysis.  I urge you to examine it closely.