A resolution opposing the sale or lease of the Ohio Turnpike has been approved by the Lake Township trustees.
The trustees approved the resolution Tuesday after receiving a letter from Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown, who last month announced his opposition to a sale or lease of the 241-mile toll road.
Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget bill includes a provision that could authorize the Ohio Department of Transportation to enter into a lease agreement for the road.
The trustees’ resolution contends a sale or lease to a private entity would result in higher tolls being enacted, and, in turn, more traffic on township roads by motorists looking to avoid the tolls.
“…the Lake Township Trustees feel that the sale and or lease of the Ohio Turnpike to a private entity will be detrimental to Lake Township and its residents due to the certain increase in toll rates, which result in an increase in car and truck traffic onto township roads…” the resolution says.
Melanie Bowen, who chairs the board of trustees, said the resolution was needed because the turnpike interchange at Stony Ridge is one of the most heavily used interchanges along the turnpike.
Higher tolls, said Richard Welling, a trustee, would create more traffic and vehicular accidents in the township.
He said one need only to look at Indiana to see the results of its toll road being leased to a private firm.
Police Chief Mark Hummer and Fire Chief Todd Walters said the leasing or sale of the turnpike would stress the township’s emergency services.
Gov. Kasich’s proposed operating biennium budget includes measures to offset a projected $8 billion deficit.
The proposed budget doesn’t include explicit language for selling the turnpike but it does, according to the Legislative Service Commission, designate the director of the department of transportation as the authorized representative of the Ohio Turnpike Commission to work with the director of the Office of Budget and Management regarding turnpike-related outsourcing contracts.
State Representative Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) said recently he would oppose a sale or lease of the turnpike and is already working with a group of legislators to remove the provision from the budget bill.
Brown last week he’s received a letter from State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) supporting his position and the boards of commissioners in Fulton and Huron counties have passed resolutions opposing a lease or sale.
The commissioners in Ottawa County have indicated they also are opposed to leasing the turnpike, he said.
In other business, the trustees approved an incentive pay raise of 50 cents per hour for township firefighters.
The increase goes into effect retro-active to March 16.
The trustees also authorized the expenditure of up to $10,000 for class B uniforms for members of the fire department.