Local and state politicians collaborate on list of issues

ST. CLAIRSVILLE- Members from various levels of government convened for their annual meeting between House representatives, senators, and county commissioners. Local politicians gathered at the Undo’s West complex in St. Clairsville to discuss some of the issues which face the State as well as the Ohio Valley.

Among the many topics at hand, each of those attendees all agreed the importance of the state budget changes over the past year or so which significantly decreases funding to many local government and municipalities.

“This is a great opportunity for the local county commissioners to get together with their state representatives and senators to let them know what is going on with the county governments at all levels. Hopefully this way we can share some of the legislative priorities and core issues from both sides to work towards progress,” said Joshua Hahn, Senior Policy Analyst for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

“In particular it is a great time for this meeting as the State goes through its budget, with so many various things that impact us. Other wider issues such as the sales tax proposal, state budget, governors severance tax proposal, medicaid expansion may be mentioned but we try to keep this focused on the local level,” Hahn continued.

Lou Gentile was also on hand expressing the importance of drawing concerns in areas where higher levels of government might not be seeing the insides of many municipalities on the County and village levels. He also touched on the recovering job market and continuing to implement systems which stimulate growth and progress. “It’s so beneficial to stay in touch with everyone to ensure our infrastructure is safe and continue job creation,” said Senator Gentile. “We obviously need to continue to move forward in that area.This is just a great bipartisan discussion about important issues facing our part of Ohio.”

Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland also pointed out the thriving industry and changes which might effect the gas and oil moving forward which has become a staple of the Ohio Valley workforce over the past several months.

“I wanted to go over exactly where we are with the severance tax as it relates to the gas and oil around the area. That is very important to our area at this point in time and one of my main concerns,” Coffland pointed out.

“This is a great time for us to get back in talks with our county commissioners. I’m sure there are some things they would like to discuss such as certain sales tax. Also it looks as if the severance tax will be at least two years away which 90 percent of those numbers would come from farm families,” said Andy Thompson, State Representitive, 95th House District. “We also want to look again at school funding, possibly revisiting the formula to make sure we are taking care of smaller schools.”

“This is an annual thing to get with our commissioners to get on the same page. The local government cuts have taken place and re are trying to adjust a little bit this year, as well as topics such as the gas and oil boom. We just want to get a good idea of what is important from the top levels down to the smallest. We have a substitute budget coming out when we return to Columbus, so we will see if that helps return some of the funding back after the recent cuts,” continued Thompson.