BUTLER TWP. — Residents of Butler Township will vote on three issues on Tuesday. Issue 42 would approve an energy aggregation measure, Issue 43 would give the township a Limited Home Rule form of government, and Issue 44 would pass an additional 3.5 mil levy to fund the township police department.
Issue 44 – Police Levy – 3.5 mil
For most voters, the most important of the three issues is Issue 44 which, if passed, would generate about $750,000 for the township police department and cost property owners $122.50 per year for every $100,000 in property value.
The millage was recommended by the township’s Budget Commission which was created by the trustees earlier this year. In making their recommendation, the Budget Commission noted that the Township currently transfers $350,000 from the general fund and used $441,000 in JEDZ funding from the Miller Lane Business District.
Levy passage would stop the transfers from the general fund.
Fiscal Officer Mark Adams said that structural deficits in the police fund will grow to $572,000 in 2017 and $657,000 in 2020.
“This problem is not due to mismanagement,” said Adams. “The Township has lost $1 million annually in revenue from state sources.”
The trustees voted unanimously to place the levy on the ballot in July.
Issue 43 – Limited Home Rule
Voters will also have the opportunity to reconsider the Limited Home Rule form of government for Butler Township in November.
The vote comes just a year after an identical matter failed by a 64-36% margin in November 2015.
The issue was resurrected this summer however after Trustees Nick Brusky and Joe Flanagan voted to disband the township’s police department in favor of a contract with the Sheriff’s Office. During the public outcry over that vote, it was discovered that had voters passed Limited Home Rule a few months earlier, residents would have been able to initiate a referendum to overturn the trustees’ decision.
Residents subsequently asked the trustees to put Limited Home Rule back on the ballot and they consented with Brusky joining Trustee Mike Lang.
In supporting the measure, Lang noted that gives the township certain powers in setting speed limits, passing nuisance ordinances, and other limited power it doesn’t currently have.
It also gives the trustees the ability to take on more debt, but only if lenders find that the township could afford the debt.
“The issues Limited Home Rule helps us address are the issues we can’t currently do anything about,” said Lang. “The last seven months have pointed out other issues.”
Flanagan, who voted against the resolution, cited its cost.
“Limited Home Rule costs more money, we are broke, and now is not the time to spend more money,” he said.
Issue 42 – Energy Aggregation
Issue 42 is an energy aggregation measure that would place Trebel, LLC as a broker for electricity in an opt-out aggregation program. According to Trebel, by voting for electric aggregation, a yes vote will allow locally elected officials to purchase electric generation at a discounted rate for your community.
Voting for aggregation doesn’t mean that all residents have to participate, and those who are already in electric supplier contracts will remain in them. Those residents who are not in a contract will automatically go into the aggregation program but have the opportunity to opt out at any time.
The trustees split when putting the measure on the ballot with Flanagan and Brusky voting in favor.
Brusky cited pending electricity rate increases by two of Ohio’s major suppliers and said DP&L would likely follow.
“This makes sense and can directly save residents money,” said Brusky.
Lang objected saying that Trebel had used “high pressure sales” tactics by showing up at Trustees meetings while not on the agenda.
“There are 331 other brokers who do the same thing,” said Lang. “We should see who gives us the best deal, not the first guy in the door.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.
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