Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough.
Area mayors have recently met twice to discuss regional cooperation and local and state issues of common interest.
The first meeting was held Monday, Feb. 4, at the Toledo Rotary Club Meeting in the Park Inn. Maumee Mayor Richard Carr, Oregon Mayor Michael Seferian, Perrysburg Mayor Nelson Evans, Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon and myself formed a panel of suburban mayors. Tom Walton, formerly editor of The Blade, served as moderator and posed questions.
On the principle issue of regional cooperation for economic development, all the mayors agreed in the necessity of attracting new jobs to the area as a means to benefit all the communities. All agreed that Toledo Mayor Mike Bell has been good to work with, and is helping to define a possible regional water authority. All are looking for efficient ways of sharing services.
The value of TARTA service was not agreed upon by all the mayors, with Perrysburg in particular questioning its value at the current property tax rates. Perrysburg has withdrawn from TARTA and is pursuing a separate stand alone system.
The second meeting of mayors was a Northwest Ohio Mayors and Managers Association (NOMMA) board meeting and reception on Monday, Feb. 11. Sixteen northwest Ohio mayors met and discussed a variety of common interests. As president of NOMMA, I was able to help lead the discussion on several issues.
Ohio House Bill 5 was discussed at length. The bill proposes to make local income tax codes and forms more uniform in order to be more business friendly, but may cause some communities to lose revenue.
Loss of state funding for villages and cities was discussed, and the need to reduce expenses to balance budgets as a result. Grant opportunities from the State of Ohio were discussed, as was state funding of highway and utility projects. The possible use of Ohio Turnpike revenues was reviewed.
Generally, the Mayors were in agreement on most issues, and that the loss of state funding has caused budget stress for all municipalities.
Regional cooperation and economic development are key to improving the economic health of local governments. Hopefully the proposed lower Ohio income tax rates will lead to better economic prospects for the region.