Mason officials are among local suburban communities that have downplayed the immediate impact of Ohio’s Issue 2 this past week on city budgets.
Mason City Manager Eric Hansen said the Issue 2 vote’s repeal of Senate Bill 5 wouldn’t have had any immediate effect on the city’s finances.
“(Issue 2) may have changed the long-term trajectory, but the loss in revenues is immediate and long-term. So the math didn’t add up.”
The Enquirer’s Steve Kemme and Amanda Seitz reports that Issue 2′s defeat hasn’t induced panic among other local communities that might gained some financial benefits from its passage.
Communities are far more worried about the loss of Ohio’s estate tax revenue in 2013 and the continued reduction of the state-provided Local Government Fund. Both of these cuts were supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-controlled General Assembly, the same ones who offered Senate Bill 5 as an antidote to local governments’ money woes.
Ohio’s $55.8 billion budget, signed by Kasich in July, slashes the Local Government Fund almost in half over the next two years. That fund provided $665 million for local governments this year. The state budget also eliminates the estate tax, 80 percent of which has gone to local governments.
For many communities, the Local Government Fund and the estate tax revenues accounted for half or more of their budgets. Almost half of Delhi Township’s general fund budget in 2010, for example, came from estate tax revenue. Local Government Fund money made up 29 percent of the $2.1 million general fund budget of Butler County’s Liberty Township last year.
The Issue 2 vote’s repeal of Senate Bill 5 will have, at worst, a minor impact on the communities’ immediate and long-term financial health, according to The Enquirer’s sampling of communities in Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren counties.
In a March press conference with other local elected officials, Mason Mayor Don Prince expressed his support that Senate Bill 5, the collective bargaining bill, could help local governments control costs if it becomes law.
Prince, who was a member at Procter & Gamble for 25 years and is the son of a police officer and a firefighter, insisted that his was not an anti-union position, but a pro-tax position.
Ohio voters defeated Issue 2 Tuesday by overwhelming numbers from across the state.
The referendum repealed SB 5, a collective bargaining overhaul that would have restricted collective bargaining rights and set minimum levels for public employees’ contributions toward their health care costs and retirement benefits.
In Warren County, considered to be among the most conservative counties in the state, Issue 2 narrowly passed, 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent. The county was one of only six counties in Ohio to vote for the issue.