Ottawa County Commissioner Steve Arndt’s recent trip to Washington D.C. cost taxpayers a little over $200 but Arndt expects to reap greater benefits for the county.
Arndt ventured on the four-day trip to the nation’s capital the first week of the month. The total cost of the trip was about $1,765, Arndt said. The County Commissioners Association of Ohio picked up the larger part of the tab, shelling out $1,500.
“It was actually a pretty good trip, I thought,” Arndt said.
Part of the trip included designing a national legislative platform for the commissioners association. But moreover, Arndt, a member of the CCAO executive committee, and other commissioners were on a mission to delve into critical government budget issues with legislators in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
In particular, county officials are worried about the possible elimination of tax-exempt municipal bonds, which are used to finance capital improvements and other major projects at the local level.
If the change happens, Arndt explained, the interest costs on a $100 million dollar project could grow up to $16 million more. “That’s a 9 percent increase in interest. I don’t think many communities could handle that,” Arndt said.
Another top concern is the avenue some are considering to drum up additional revenue to help shrink the ever-growing national debt.
Commissioners also stressed the importance of continuing federal backing of Community Development Block Grant dollars.
“We use those for a lot of sewer projects across Ottawa County. For seniors, the money is used to provide handicap access. All impact us in some important way,” Arndt said.
Finally, commissioners also complained about changes in the elections process which force counties to cough up additional cash.
Arndt pointed to the switch to the ballot digital scanning system. Before that, ballots here were brought to one central location for tallying. The sensitive digital scanners at polling sites present a number of maintenance problems because they are jostled around in transport as well as storage issues.
“The more technology you have – the more you are subject to more challenges,” he said.
Still, he added, “The Secretary of State’s office should be the one to deal with the costs. They are the ones that make all the guidelines and regulations to pull off elections.”