Pounds: Note to municipalitiesWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
In October 2011, Gov. John Kasich signed into law Ohio House Bill 153, which broke the monopoly daily publications held on legal notices purchased with public money.
I have covered this ground before, but in light of recent events, it bears repeating. The bill eliminated the limitation that links charging for newspapers with being permitted to publish legal notices. It opened the legal publication business to any newspaper of general circulation that publishes at least once a week and meets other criteria, all of which Toledo Free Press satisfies. The bill also requires a participating newspaper to offer its best classified rate for such publications. Allowing newspapers such as Toledo Free Press to publish these notices is intended to ensure that the best rate offered by any participant in this market will be competitive. The result should be substantial savings for all who are required to publish legal notices.
Toledo Free Press has, predictably, had to fight to get local government to learn and respect the new law. A number of agencies have begun taking advantage of our lower rates to reach Lucas County taxpayers. Late last year, Toledo Free Press began the process with Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez to compete for delinquent property ads. Eventually, Lopez sought an opinion from the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office, which, on Oct. 16, ruled, “[Toledo] Free Press would now qualify as a paper of general circulation.”
Shortly after that, Lopez opened bids for the delinquent property ads.
Lopez cited Toledo Free Press’ lower circulation in areas such as Neopolis and Curtice as reasons for awarding the legal ads to The Blade. That perceived shortcoming has been addressed.
But after the Village of Ottawa Hills published legal notices in the Feb. 10 Toledo Free Press, a Blade representative contacted village administrators claiming, “The Toledo Free Press does not qualify as a Newspaper of General Circulation as specified by Ohio Revised Code.”
This is not true, as evidenced by the opinion of the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office. Competition is fine; inaccuracies and distortions are unethical and improper.
Too many Lucas County officials are stuck in old models and counterproductive ways of thinking. There is a new reality, and while many fear and resent the changes, those changes are happening in many counties and will continue to chip away at reckless spending of taxpayer money.
Toledo Free Press will continue to compete for county and municipal legal ads, in what will undoubtedly be a long educational process.
Gov. Kasich amended this law because of the tough economic situation that municipalities face today. He recognized that it was not in the townships’ or residents’ best interest that public notices could only be placed in paid publications.
Your primary reason to choose us for your legal notices is that we more than fulfill the legal requirements and can save your citizens thousands of dollars in the process.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.