ROCKSPRINGS — State Senator Frank Hoagland spent time in Meigs County on Monday, meeting with local officials to discuss areas of concern.
Meigs County officials Engineer Gene Triplett, Treasurer Peggy Yost, Recorder Kay Hill, Auditor Mary Byer-Hill, Clerk of Courts Sammi Mugrage and Commissioner Randy Smith, along with County Commissioners Association of Ohio representative Brad Cole, met with Hoagland for nearly two hours at the Rio Grande Community College Meigs Branch.
The Medicaid Managed Care Organization sales tax loss was the first item brought up by the local officials, as the proposed fix for the revenue loss is currently awaiting a Senate vote on the potential override of a veto by Gov. John Kasich.
Hoagland expressed that he would have no problem voting for the override, but cautioned that there is no guarantee if the override is approved that the federal government would allow the fee waiver.
He explained that there needs to be a secondary plan in place in case the primary plan “goes upside down.” He asked the officials to be thinking of what his office and others can do to help facilitate a back-up plan.
While the override is a major concern for counties and the CCAO, as far as procedure goes, the senate technically has until the end of the General Assembly (end of 2018) to officially override the veto.
Another topic of discussion was the need to bring broadband internet access to the area. Broadband access is key to bringing business to the area, noted the senator.
Another area Hoagland and his office is working to address is the “internet sales tax gap.” Hoagland said his office has been working with Senator Rob Portman’s office to discuss what options may be out there to address the situation in which many online purchases do not incur sales tax.
Hoagland cautioned that it is not easy to regulate and so far states have not had much success. Maryland has been the most successful Hoagland stated.
Triplett asked about the possibility of an increase to the gas tax, a tax which directly impacts the county highway budget.
He explained that the budget has been the same since 2005 when the last gas tax was put in place.
An increase of one cent on the gas tax, if divided the way it is currently, would bring in an additional approximately $125,000 annually to the engineer’s budget.
Triplett stated that a 10 cent increase to the gas tax, even if it were to be spread out in yearly two cent increments would greatly impact the budget and what his office is able to do. That amount would bring a 40 percent increase to the budget.
License plate fees also go into the highway department budget. The state recently approved allowing counties to increase the permissive license fee by $5 for additional funds to the highway department. Triplett explained that even if the county were to approve the increase it would generate less than a one cent gas tax increase. The benefit would not be enough to ask for the increase to be put in place in Meigs County.
Overall, Hoagland said that the state has to continue “feeding counties” funding, not the opposite, which Commissioner Smith noted has not been the trend.
“I am a vehicle for you,” said Hoagland. “We have got to work together to find proper solutions.”
Sarah Hawley is the Managing Editor of The Daily Sentinel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.