Brown, Ohio reps fight for townships

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohiom joined U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, Ohio District 13, Marcy Kaptur, Ohio District 9, and Joyce Beatty, Ohio District 3, Thursday in pressing Secretary Janet Yellen to ensure townships in Ohio and across the country are eligible for direct relief under the funds passed through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP).

Under the current law, which was passed by House and Senate Democrats and signed into law by President Biden last week, Yellen has the discretion to determine the extent to which townships and other nonentitlement units of government are eligible for direct assistance.

“After a long, trying year, it is critical we provide this urgent relief to our local governments who are on the front lines serving our communities each and every day,” wrote the lawmakers. “As you begin issuing guidance and implementing the American Rescue Plan (ARP), we urge you to ensure towns and townships across the country are made eligible for direct relief to the fullest extent possible.”

The discretion allowed under the ARP has led to some confusion and concern among local towns and townships about their eligibility for direct support. This effort by the lawmakers would help ensure Ohio townships receive the maximum relief allowed under the ARP.

In the state of Ohio, state law authorizes townships to operate under a basic form of government and to perform a wide variety of functions such as road maintenance, cemetery management, police and fire protection, emergency medical services, solid waste disposal, and zoning. Across the 1,308 townships in Ohio, they are directly responsible for maintaining 41,000 miles of roads and streets, and managing more than 2,400 cemeteries.

The ARP included $362 billion in the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to ensure first responders, frontline health workers, teachers, and other providers of vital services remain safely on the job as states, local governments, Tribes and territories continue to roll out vaccines and rebuild their local economies.

Under the law, use of the funding is flexible and the timeframe extends through 2024.