Tuesday, February 19, 2019

County Caucus - 2019 General Assembly

Each of the seven caucuses met at the General Assembly January 28, 2019. Read on to see priorities of the different groups.

2019 General Assembly County Caucus 
Monday, January 28, 2019
Weston Hunt Room, Holiday Inn French Quarter

Call to Order/Welcome/Introductions – Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Stahl, the facilitator of the County Caucus, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone present.

TMACOG members in attendance included:

  • Ted Bowlus – Commissioner, Wood County
  • Gary Byers – Commissioner, Lucas County
  •  Mark Coppeler – Commissioner, Ottawa County
  • Keith Earley – County Engineer, Lucas County
  • Doris Herringshaw – Commissioner, Wood County
  • Craig LaHote – Commissioner, Wood County
  •  Ronald Lajti – County Engineer, Ottawa County
  •  Scott Miller – Commissioner, Sandusky County
  •  Russ Zimmerman, Commissioner, Sandusky County
  •  John Musteric – County Engineer, Wood County
  •  Matthew Oestreich – Auditor, Wood County
  •  Mark Stahl – Commissioner, Ottawa County
  • Donald Douglas – Commissioner, Ottawa County
  • Karen Young – Chief Deputy Auditor, Wood County
  • Jeff McBee – Engagement Director, Monroe County
  • David Thompson – Drain Commissioner, Monroe County

Non-Caucus members in attendance included:
  • Steven Arndt – State Representative, 89th District, Ohio

TMACOG staff included:
  • Tim Brown –President, TMACOG
  • Austin Mack – Public Administration Associate

Topic Discussion – The following topics were discussed during the caucus.

Infrastructure Funding 

· The Ohio Gas tax was last raised to $.28 cents in 2005, since then has not been adjusted for inflation, and the increasing cost of construction materials continue decrease purchasing power of the gas tax.

· Michigan has an electric vehicle registration fee that gets marked for road funding.

· 11% of state gas tax goes directly to the counties.

· ODOT projects falling behind, gas tax (federal) has not gone up in 25 years, really starting to stare down the upcoming budget consequences.

· Governor Dewine plans to appoint a blue-ribbon commission of citizens and experts shortly after taking office to “come back with a quick assessment about where we are on infrastructure and come back with recommendations” on how to fund a fix.

· Prior Governor leveraged debt on the turnpike, disproportionately effected northern Ohio, could in 2019 have further turnpike increase.

· Ohio Trucking Association has said publicly if the gas tax is not raised, then raise the diesel tax because that’s how bad it needs to be done.

· Is there a number we need to hit? Keith Early “15 cents over 3 years”. So a 5 cent increase per year.

· Turnpike is coming out with electric charging stations for E vehicles, further drives home the point of raising the gas tax as not the only solution or a long term viable funding source.

· Vehicle user miles fee could be complete solution to properly taxing electric and gas

· State license fee is 20 dollars and hasn’t gone up since 1981. One of the lowest in the country.

· Michigan has license fee of 151 dollars, other states also much higher

· House bill 415 failed in the Senate.

· Gas tax appears to be dead on arrival to Ohio legislature historically. Unsure what the future holds.

· Need to educate legislatures, how can we do that? FOR Ohio Group (Fix Our Roads) just released an educational study that also offers its recommended solutions. The document was signed off on by a large statewide coalition.

Energy Policy

· Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Stahl provided an update on his use and distribution of TMACOG’s energy resolution which was passed by TMACOG’s Executive Committee. He also spoke about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions (FERC) actions pertaining to a resilient and reliable energy portfolio for the nation. The TMACOG Energy Policy resolution is available by request

· Call for state GOV to look at benefits of Nuclear power, reconsider decommissioning nuclear power plants.

· PGM- how do we go from 40 to 60 percent efficiency? PGM doesn’t seem to value nuclear power

· Energy policy should value nuclear power, nuclear power bridges the gap with renewables.

· FERC Staff Issues Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2018 Report  | FERC Staff Reports

· State Representative Steve Arndt provided an update on hearings in Columbus and energy legislation he is proposing.

· Discussion on First Energy getting out of bankruptcy; this administration has an interest in making sure we make a good policy for Ohio, as with the house and senate. Nuclear power should still have a place in the grid.

· Nuclear power has a high baseload component18-24 months, zero carbon as opposed to natural gas, natural gas needs constant flow of gas.

· 60 percent more input cost with natural gas in comparison to making the same power as nuclear; Let the free market dictate.

· Extreme cold temperatures for example can create problems for natural gas production.

· Once you close a nuclear plant they’re decommissioned for good ,you can’t just start them back up.

· Deregulation vs regulation- we do not want to block out new technology

· Solar and wind getting subsidized distorts the supply, all sources right now have different advantages and disadvantages.

· Microgrid technology will help in the future because it can operate within or independent of a central grid, which increases system reliability. The further this technology advances the easier it can help integrate renewable energy sources.

Opioid Epidemic and Mental Health

· Increase in opiate use has resulted in a growing female population in jails that is a fiscal stress on the counties.

· Jobs and family services also feels stresses of the drug epidemic on their budgets.

· Treatment is difficult, relapse rates are high. Early education is key to combating the problem

· Mental health is not being addressed as a public health issue. Our jails aren’t equipped to deal with mental health patients, those who need help are not getting properly treated. Draws comparisons to institutionalization.

· Opioid epidemic has been felt by business as well, having a hard time filling open positions with someone who qualified who can pass a drug screen. Some area businesses often find themselves competing over the same pool of employees.

Health of Lake Erie

· No chance Ohio is going to meet its Phosphorous goal, its reduction of 40 percent by 2020 is not going to happen. Rainfall events have increased making the problem harder to correct. Need to work with agriculture to get this problem solved.

· Farmers are doing what the public asks of them in food production, food has never been more plentiful and affordable, but agriculture is the source of phosphorous.

· TMACOG has grant dollars to help agriculture with phosphorous reductions.

· Agriculture isn’t our enemy in the Lake Erie and phosphorus issue, and Governor Mike Dewine has indicated a water quality bond may help fund the solutions to get us to the 40 percent agriculture phosphorous reduction. Bond will be 100 million per year over 10 years.

· Monroe county drain commission has been incentivizing farmers to have filter strips.

· Michigan can’t mandate a filter strip on private farm land so that’s why they are incentivizing it. Most want to do 10-20 feet, good starting point.

· Without proper drainage you lose crops to flooding, yet draining to fast leads excess phosphorous to the lake. Farmers ideally want to keep the fertilizer on their land, it is a high expense for them.

Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments | www.tmacog.org

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