Local officials looking out for local interests?
The recent statements by local officials concerning the proposed severance tax raise questions about their commitment to the local communities. Returning dollars to our county should be one of the major considerations. The oil and gas industry impacts local services like any other industry. They are significant users of our township roads. They receive the same fire and police protection as well. These services are largely provided by our townships which will be providing the upfront cost for these services.
The oil and gas resource is one of the industries that is concentrated in Southeast Ohio. It is important that we insure that the local citizens receive the benefits of having that resource. Local government has the responsibility to identify the means to fund local services. Local government cannot be driven by the macro economics. Prosperous Ohio communities have built their local economies by looking out for their local interests. Southeast Ohio should be doing the same.
The perception that all the local oil and gas activity will be benefiting local business and citizens is also misplaced. The financial resources required to develop the deep wells will come from outside our communities. And the bulk of the returns will also leave the community. There will be much local benefit but it will not compare to the resources leaving our community.
The proposed severance taxes are well within the range of what surrounding states have in place. Ohio and local communities should be securing the same resources for providing services to the industry as other states.
The idea that people, businesses or the oil and gas industry will voluntarily give us dollars seems questionable as well. It is true that local business and local people do contribute much to our communities. However we still experience the struggle to fund our fire services, schools and potholes.
I would encourage local officials to look out for local interests.