TOLEDO, OHIO (WTOL) - Commissioners in Warren County, Ohio say they don't want federal stimulus money, but won't give it other Ohio communities either.
Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop says some leaders in Washington are trying to make it illegal to return or share stimulus money.
Konop sent a letter to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as well as Representative Marcy Kaptur and Senator Sherrod Brown asking for help. The letter is as follows:
A plea I made last week to a fellow Ohio county to send its unwanted federal stimulus funds here to recession-ravaged Lucas County in northwest Ohio is about to make it onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives - but not in the way I had hoped. Per reports from Ohio newspapers over the weekend, Reps. John Boehner, Jean Schmidt, and Mike Turner have crafted legislation they plan to introduce that would make it illegal for returned or unwanted stimulus money to be re-allocated to communities in need.
Congresswoman Pelosi, I am writing to you today to ask that if anything, the only change Congress considers in regards to stimulus funding this week is to ensure more funds are allocated to the areas that need it most. Certainly, Toledo and Lucas County fit in such a category.
Last week, in response to reports that southwest Ohio's Warren County rejected over $370,000 in federal stimulus money and wanted to return another $1.8 million it already received, I wrote to the county commissioners there asking them to redirect those funds to Lucas County. Additionally, I wrote to the Ohio departments of transportation and development, the two likely facilitators of the funds Warren County doesn't want. My request was rebuffed by the Warren County commissioners and I have not received a response from either state department despite follow-up phone calls made by my office.
Lucas County is a community devastated by the crises in this country's automotive and housing sectors, with unemployment at 12 percent and a foreclosure rate among the 35 highest in the nation. The possible bankruptcies or failures of Chrysler and General Motors will mean more job losses, unpaid bills, and eviction notices for our citizens. The city of Toledo alone has a $20 million hole in its general fund budget and is preparing to lay off 150 police officers Friday. It is clear that Lucas County would benefit greatly from any available funds to provide services for its citizens and put them back to work.
President Obama and Congress collaborated on a $787 billion stimulus package through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year with those very same goals in mind - providing services and creating jobs. Should local governments make political decisions to refuse the money, their decisions should not determine whether or not those rejected funds are re-allocated to suffering, blue-collar communities that would accept those funds with open arms. I am writing today to ask that you prevent right-wing ideology from causing more harm to Lucas County than already inflicted by this recession.