Reduced budgets have meant a decline in the quality of roads and bridges in Washington County townships, and township trustees are looking to the Washington County commissioners for assistance.
"We're very careful about going into debt," said Decatur Township Trustee Jim Irvin. "When we have less money, we have less to spend on roads and road improvement."
Belpre Township is feeling the money pinch, too.
"We have stretched our budgets to the point where we can't stretch them anymore," said Belpre Township trustee Asa Boring.
The Washington County commissioners enacted a 1 percent permissive sales tax code in 1986 that is still used today.
However in recent years, townships in Washington County have received fewer funds from those county sales tax revenues.
By the numbers
In 1992, Washington County collected about $3.6 million in total 1 percent permissive sales tax, with $930,000 allocated to bridges. An additional $795,000 was distributed to county and township roads, with county roads receiving $230,000 and township roads receiving $565,000.
Washington County collected about $5.8 million in total sales tax in 2002, with $1.5 million allocated to bridges. An additional $1.5 million was distributed to county and township roads, with county roads receiving $440,000 and township roads receiving $1.1 million.
In 2012 the county collected nearly $6.8 million in total sales tax, with about $0 allocated to bridges. An additional $737,000 was distributed to county and township roads, with county roads receiving $0 and township roads receiving $737,000.
Source: Washington County 1% Permissive Sales Tax Summary 1984 to 2012.
At the Sept. 13 County Commissioners meeting, representatives from the Washington County Township Association's 1 Percent Sales Tax Committee submitted a proposal to commissioners asking that more of the permissive sales tax revenues go to townships.
Under the 1986 tax code, 85 percent of annual tax revenues were to be used for bridge approaches, bridge and road maintenance, repair, replacement and improvement. The remaining 15 percent was for the county's general fund.
"There was no differentiation between how much the county engineer received (for bridges and roads) and the townships received," said Washington County Auditor Bill McFarland.
Over the years, the formula for annual allocation of county sales tax revenues has been at the discretion of the Washington County commissioners.
In 2011, 85 percent of county sales tax revenues went to the county's general fund and 15 percent to bridges and roads, according to Roger Wright, deputy engineer for Washington County.
"That formula actually flip flopped," Wright said.
Washington County Township Association's 1 Percent Sales Tax Committee proposed a split of 40 percent to townships and 60 percent to the county's general fund, Boring said.
"(The townships) would eventually like to get more money, naturally," added Boring. "We feel the county is doing well and they have the wherewithal to help us out."
Washington County townships received $736, 915.14 in county sales tax revenues in 2011.
Townships received the same amount for 2012, plus $279,871 in supplemental appropriations at the request of some township trustees.
Supplemental appropriations are distributed when the county earns more than anticipated in sales tax revenues, Wright said.
Washington County Commissioner Steve Weber said he thinks the distribution of county sales tax revenues should return to its original 85 percent/15 percent formula.
"That's what the people voted for," Weber said. "I think the commissioners should work toward that aim."
However, Weber admitted it would be difficult for county commissioners to return to the original 85 percent portion of the county sales tax formula.
"The (county) government dipped into these funds more and more to run itself," said Weber.
Other Washington County service providers also have increased funding demands.
"You have to try to balance them out," Weber said.