OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
Here are the top four things you need to know from this past week:
· While both the Ohio House and Senate were on spring break this past week, the House is scheduled to resume committee hearings next week. The Senate is scheduled to return the week of April 19.
· The Ohio Auditor of State has released a nine-page bulletin entitled “Separate Accountability for Federal Programs Authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP)”. The full bulletin, which you can access HERE, emphasizes the separate accountability of federal funds and provide accounting guidance for significant ARP programs.
· Budget Watch: Ohio received in $1.6 billion in taxes in March, which was $41.4 million, or 2.6% above estimates. Most of the revenues can from taxes on auto sales, which were $32.3 million, or 23.5% above estimates. March was the tenth consecutive month that exceeded the state’s auto sales tax revenues estimates. Ohio tax revenues now total $763.4 million above estimates for the year, which may impact the ongoing legislative work on the FY22-23 state operating budget.
· The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) has released “Potential Impact of Changing Municipal Income Tax Laws on Smaller Ohio Cities”, a review of the impact of the repeal of Section 29 of HB 197 on 316 smaller cities and villages in the state. Section 29 instructs municipalities to continue withholding municipal income tax at a taxpayer’s place of work, even if the taxpayer is currently working from home in a different local jurisdiction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study used data from by the Regional Income Tax Authority (RITA) to determine that 300 small cities and villages could lose $105 million annually if the provision is repealed. The study also finds that 62.5% of the state’s 16 legacy cities can anticipate net losses in municipal income tax revenue if the provision is repealed. Read the full report HERE.
OHIO SUPREME COURT ISSUES IMPORTANT PUBLIC RECORDS DECISION
This week, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an important public records decision State ex rel. Armatas v. Plain Twp. Bd. of Trustees. The issue was whether legal fee invoices of a private entity representing the township were public record. You can access the full ruling HERE.
The Supreme Court held that public records are defined as “records kept by any public office.” That definition is further refined by the Ohio Revised Code in R.C. 149.011(G), which defines “records” to include “any document created or received by or coming under the jurisdiction of any public office that serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.”
Invoices for legal services provided to public offices are public records to the extent that they contain only nonprivileged information (privileged communications must be redacted). The invoice at issue in the litigation is a public record under the quasi-agency test.
The “quasi-agency” test is used in cases in which a public office receives a request for records that are in the possession of a private entity, in order to determine whether the records are connected to the public office’s delegation of its public duty to the private entity.
The Supreme Court ruled that even if the public office does not “create” or “receive” the records, the records may nonetheless be “under the jurisdiction” of the public office. According to the decision, “the quasi-agency theory applies when “ ‘(1) a private entity prepares records in order to carry out a public office’s responsibilities, (2) the public office is able to monitor the private entity’s performance, and (3) the public office has access to the records for this purpose.’ When a requester has adequately proved the first prong of the quasi-agency test, the requester has met his burden of proof that a delegated public duty establishes that the documents relating to the delegated functions are public records.
In summary, the Ohio Supreme Court held that under the “quasi-agency” test, a public-records requester is entitled to documents from a public office relating to duties of the office when the office has delegated the duties to a private entity.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA) RESOURCES FROM THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES
The National League of Cities (NLC) has provided municipalities with multiple resources to regarding the local impact of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and provide up-to-date information on forthcoming guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The League also wants to remind members that past presentations and slides from the NLC explaining the local provisions of ARPA are located on the members-only section of our website, which you can find HERE.
Congress continues to refine the estimates for allocations from the State and Local Fiscal Relief Funds, but estimations for each municipality have been released. Municipalities can use NLC's new allocation tracker HERE to find out how much your community is eligible for.
ARP Summary of Provisions
NLC has created an extensive, searchable summary of provisions relevant to municipalities and local leaders in this historic legislation. You can find the link HERE.
Local Recovery: Five Principles for ARP Implementation
NLC staff has written a CitiesSpeak blog on five principles for ARP implementation. You can find that blog HERE.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The White House shared a summary of the President's American Jobs Plan and the impact it could have on municipalities. Read NLC's summary HERE.
Municipalities can continue to share questions and feedback around the American Rescue Plan Act through this form HERE.
OHIO CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE UPDATE
· As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 1,033,606 cases of coronavirus, 18,741 resident deaths, 53,841 hospitalizations and 7,506 ICU admissions.
Condensed Health Order:
· Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will issue a simplified health order that streamlines previous orders into a single order that underscores the most important tenants of infection prevention.
Case Increases and Ohio Public Health Advisory System Update:
· This week is the second week where the cases over two weeks per 100,000 people have gone up by more than 10.
o Two weeks ago, Ohio's cases per 100,000 people were 146.9.
o As of Thursday, case per 100,000 people is at 183.7.
· The increases in case rates are reflected in this week’s Ohio Public Health Advisory System map. New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health shows case increases in 53 counties over the past week.
o Level changes include:
§ Franklin County moved to the watch list following sustained increases in cases and in COVID-related healthcare use including emergency department and outpatient visits and hospitalizations for COVID.
§ Putnam County moved from orange to red.
§ Carroll, Mercer, and Morgan counties moved from yellow to orange.
§ Brown and Noble counties dropped from orange to yellow.
· According to Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer at the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio and the nation are enduring another wave of COVID-19 due to variants of the original virus that are more contagious and more deadly.
o Variant counts in Ohio jumped from 92 on March 12 to 797 today, a doubling time of about every 9-10 days.
· Governor DeWine outlined the progression of Ohio's economic recovery.
o Ohio’s gross domestic product (GDP) outpaced the nation in the final quarter of calendar year 2020.
§ The U.S. GDP is estimated to have grown 4.3 percent in the quarter, and Ohio’s GDP is estimated to have increased 5 percent during the same timeframe.
o Ohio’s unemployment rate in February 2021 was 5 percent and the national rate was 6.2 percent.
o This month, Ohio’s tax revenues exceeded the monthly estimate by $41 million, or 2.6 percent, and remain 4.3 percent above the estimate for the fiscal year-to-date.
§ This is a dramatic improvement from one year ago.
· These positive developments follow several steps taken by Governor DeWine at the onset of the pandemic to ensure that the state budget remained balanced and stable, including a freeze on state government spending, cuts in state staffing costs, and refinanced state bonds.
High School Vaccinations:
- Governor DeWine announced that he has asked Ohio's local health departments and vaccine providers that are offering the Pfizer vaccine to coordinate with local high schools to offer vaccinations to high school students who are 16 or older.
- Pfizer is the only vaccine that is currently approved for children as young as 16.
· Using federal dollars strategically to shore up Ohio's unemployment system will also contribute to Ohio's year of recovery.
o Governor DeWine recommended to the General Assembly that Ohio use a portion of its federal COVID relief and recovery dollars to pay off the Unemployment Insurance loan owed to the federal government.
· As part of the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s managed care overhaul, Governor DeWine announced the “Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence (OhioRISE) program.
o The program will feature new, intensive, community-based services that will serve youth in their homes and communities, rather than in congregate settings that can be far away from a child’s home and support system.
· Over the next ten months, Aetna Better Health of Ohio will work with the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Family and Children First Cabinet Council to launch OhioRISE to serve all of Ohio’s eligible children.
o To enroll in OhioRISE, children must be Medicaid eligible, have significant behavioral health needs, and require enhanced services.
Case Data and Vaccine Information: