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Published: Saturday, 8/16/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Toledo rebate from workers’ comp $2.6M

Employers to get state’s checks in October; total to be over $1B

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — Just as it is trying to figure out how to pay overtime and other costs associated with the recent water crisis, the city of Toledo has learned it could be getting a check in the neighborhood of $2.6 million.

“The timing couldn’t have been better,” city spokesman Lisa Ward said.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation announced this week that it is planning a second round of rebates this fall totaling more than $1 billion to employers, private and public, thanks to robust investment returns.

Its board is expected to approve the rebate at its September meeting, and the first checks to employers could go out in October.

The city doesn’t know yet exactly how much it will receive, but the bureau said Friday it should be about $2.6 million, slightly more than last year.

In all, local governments received $113 million in rebates last time.

The rebate is expected to represent about 60 percent of the city’s workers’ compensation premiums for last year.

“Not only does this proposal include an unprecedented commitment of up to $35 million dollars to safe workplaces and a healthy, productive work force, if approved by the board, this rebate will help private employers and local governments who are already seeing lower rates thanks to annual rate reductions,” said bureau dministrator Steve Buehrer, the former state representative and senator from Fulton County’s Delta.

Toledo leaders were keeping their fingers crossed that the rebate would be repeated this year in part because of the huge expenses involved in the response to last week’s water crisis.

Leaders are talking about putting half the money into the city’s general fund as a budgetary hedge, Ms. Ward said. Some could go toward replenishing the city’s water fund balance and paying an estimated $207,000 in employee overtime costs.

“We’ve been kind of hopeful,” she said. “It’s one of those things you can’t count on until you have it.”

Last year the city put much of its $2.5 million rebate into the hiring of more police officers. The city has other needs this year.

“[Traffic] camera revenue is down, so this could help make that adjustment,” Ms. Ward said. “Last year we got $3 million we didn’t anticipate in estate tax. This year we don’t have the estate tax anymore.”

Ohio eliminated the estate tax as of Jan. 1, 2013. Eighty percent of the revenue generated from the tax went to local governments.

Ms. Ward said the city realizes that it can’t bank on these dividends continuing, something both Gov. John Kasich and Mr. Buehrer warned this week.

The rebates are based on strong investment returns of 8.9 percent over the last three years, swelling the bureau’s portfolio to $7.7 billion.

“The year we count on it will be the year we don’t get it,” Ms. Ward said.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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