Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin said Wednesday an amendment in the state’s budget bill may be the solution to a projected $800,000 deficit in the county’s coffers next year, but representatives are concerned Ohio Gov. John Kasich may veto the proposal.
As previously reported by The Times-Gazette, the commissioners learned last summer that the federal government will no longer allow sales taxes on Medicaid-funded managed care organizations, resulting in substantial revenue losses for both the state and the county.
According to a memo from the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the amendment, introduced by Representative Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Senator Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, requires the state to seek federal approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reset the franchise fee on health insurance corporations, which would raise enough money to cover Ohio counties affected by the loss for the next six years.
The proposal would raise an estimated $207 million to be distributed to affected counties and transit authorities if federal approval is granted.
The memo states that payments equal to counties’ Medicaid-funded managed care organization sales tax receipts collected during 2015 and 2016 would be distributed after July 2018.
According to the memo, the amendment also retains a transition aid originally contained in the budget bill that offers a one-time payout based on counties’ revenue dependence.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday that Kasich’s budget director has indicated the governor opposes permanent replacement of local dollars.
Wilkin said during a Wednesday commissioners meeting there’s speculation that Kasich will veto the amendment, although the Ohio House of Representatives has enough votes to override a veto if that happens.
Commissioner Terry Britton pointed out the whole process must be completed by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley told The Times-Gazette last week that if arrangements aren’t made to aid the county, the commissioners may have to make dramatic cuts in some departments.
“It’ll be a matter of the commissioners sitting down and looking at every line item,” he said. “We’ve been through this before, and it’s not fun.”
Fawley said during a previous commissioners meeting that the budget would have to be cut back to where it was in 2004.
“You’ve had increases since then, and the cost of everything has gone up,” he said. “It makes it very difficult… This can get to be very serious.”
In other business Wednesday, commissioner Jeff Duncan said new doors have been installed in the front entrance of the Highland County Courthouse, and the board tabled discussion on a liquor license transfer for the Rocky Road Sunoco in Paint Township. Wilkin abstained from that discussion.
The commissioners also passed routine financial resolutions.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.