By AMY GAREIS
News Herald Staff Writer
CADIZ – County leaders are speaking out in opposition to a proposed severance tax that would use proceeds from local oil and gas production to offset income tax cuts statewide.
Harrison County Commissioners have passed a resolution expressing its opinion against Gov. John Kasich’s proposal within the state budget bill, known as House Bill 59. Gov. Kasich is asking for a 4.5-percent severance tax with 75 percent earmarked for statewide income tax cuts, while 25 percent would go to the Appalachian counties. Of that, local officials said the “most impacted” counties would receive 75 percent with the remainder dispersed to assist development agencies within the Appalachian region.
“Harrison County has had high unemployment and been in economic peril for decades without assistance from prosperous regions of the state,” the resolution stated. It continued that a significant portion of the severance tax should be returned to the local governments of the counties currently being impacted by the oil and gas drilling industry and used to offset associated costs for infrastructure repairs and improvements, law enforcement emergency management services and other government services.
Officials opined that there is no guarantee that any of the funds would be returned to the county’s general fund to be used at local leaders’ discretion and best serve residents.
“Until we get something certain where we will have funding come back, the only definite thing is 75 percent of the funding is going to the rest of the state of Ohio for income tax breaks that include people making more than $75,000 a year,” Commission Chairman Don Bethel said.
Read the full story in this weeks print edition of the Harrison News-Herald.