Trustees ready for new year
By Scott Rawdon
JACKSONTOWN- It's hands off the Licking Township zoning committees and hands on the roads for the Licking Township Trustees, who held their organizational meeting Monday night. Trustees Joe Hart and Dave Miller welcomed new and former Trustee Ron Acord, who replaced former Trustee John Holman in the November election.
The trustees unanimously agreed that Hart would remain for third term as council president and Acord was appointed vice president. Meeting time and place will not change.
But, other things did change.
Hart told the trustees he wanted to ensure that township employees would receive pay raises only after the trustees have reviewed a budget and approved them, not automatically. Miller and Acord agreed.
Miller said any department purchasing equipment should only need one trustee's approval for amounts up to $750, two trustees' approval for purchases up to $1,500, and all three trustees would need to discuss any purchases greater than $1,500.
In an emergency, all departments would only need one trustee's permission for purchases up to $1,500. This provides the departments significantly more flexibility than the old rules.
Hart said he supports appointing one trustee to supervise the road department, although the Ohio Revised Code also allows a township to divide the township into three sections, which each trustee would oversee, or to hire a supervisor from the outside.
Acord said he preferred for all three trustees to work together as supervisors. "We shouldn't name one person," he said.
"We only have the option of one of the three," said Hart.
"I'm the designated guy who they'll call anyway," said Miller, who's been supervisor and is working to secure grant money for road projects. "I'd like to over see the roads for one more year." All agreed, and the trustees agreed Acord is back-up supervisor.
Hart said he didn't want his name plugged into a resolution to work directly with township zoning. He said he's opposed to the existing 405-page zoning document. As a trustee, he said he'll do whatever is necessary as someone who oversees township zoning, but he doesn't want zoning to bind him to attending township zoning commission and board of appeals meetings. He doesn't believe it's necessary for him or any trustee to do so unless per the commissions' request. It's not a matter of laziness, said Hart. He's concerned a trustee's presence may affect how commission members vote and he doesn't want the commission members to feel like the appointed trustee is speaking on behalf of all the trustees.
Miller said he won't attend zoning commission or board of appeals meetings because he agreed that being there may affect the board members' decisions. He believes the commission chairs should present a report to the trustees for their consideration after the commissions meet and the trustees should let commission members do their jobs.
The trustees re-appointed board of appeals member Bob Johnson and zoning commission member Clifton Clark to their respective positions through 2014.
Resident Richard Cash suggested that the trustees should document township roads' positions and right-of-ways themselves, instead of relying on the Licking County Engineer's Office, which he believes has some incorrect information on file. "We have roads in the township that aren't where they're supposed to be," said Cash. He said residents have complained about this for several years.
Miller said the county has the final say.
Wednesday, Licking County Board of Elections Director Sue Penick said the board of elections would take no action on former Licking Township Trustee John Holman's challenge of Acord's residency status. Penick said the board determined that the compliant was not in the board's jurisdiction because it was not filed within a required 50-day timeframe of the election. She said if Holman wishes to appeal the decision, he could do so with the Secretary of State or private counsel.
Holman's complaint contends that Acord has permanent residence with a female companion outside of Licking Township, which would make him ineligible to be a trustee. Acord strongly denied the allegation.
Holman said Wednesday he was not aware of the 50-day requirement and added that the board of election's denial only applies to the filing and the election. "It does not negate the complaint entirely," he said. Holman said he would continue to pursue the complaint if Acord doesn't prove that he's living within Licking Township permanently. "By all means, I will pursue it," he said. Holman said he has the support of many residents who believe their elected officials should live within the area they govern.