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Gov. Kasich Signs Efficiency-Boosting Bill into Law
Columbus – Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 5 into law today, allowing local governments and state agencies to request feasibility studies from the Auditor of State’s office. The studies will measure the potential benefits of sharing resources with neighboring entities.
“Uncertainty has kept too many of Ohio’s governments from reaping the cost-saving benefits of collaboration,” Auditor Yost said. “This bill allows my office to provide clear answers to those looking to boost efficiency and save tax dollars through sharing. I would like to thank Representatives Kunze and Koehler, and all the local leaders who helped turn this concept into law.”
House Bill 5 also establishes a grant program to cover the full cost of the studies. All local governments and state agencies are eligible to apply for one of the dozen or so grants, which are funded by the Auditor of State’s Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance Fund (LEAP Fund). The size of the grants will vary depending on the scope of the studies.
Following a selection process, the Auditor’s Ohio Performance Team (OPT) will conduct the studies and hold a public meeting at the conclusion of each one to discuss the findings. The participating governments are not required to follow through with the recommendations.
The studies are completely voluntary, and entities can opt out if they are included in another government’s application. The Auditor of State’s office is currently developing the selection process and plans to begin accepting applications in October.
In addition to the feasibility studies, House Bill 5 alleviates liability concerns for governments considering collaborative partnerships by allowing for the risk of loss to pass from the lender to the borrowing entity in shared service agreements. Ohio law previously prohibited local governments from indemnifying one another, meaning owners of shared resources would bear the liability for any possible loss.
House Bill 5 was introduced on January 28, 2015 and sponsored by Representatives Stephanie Kunze and Kyle Koehler. In May, it passed through the House and Senate by votes of 94-3 and 30-0, respectively.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.
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