BUTLER TWP. — Voters in Butler Township will decide two issues that could have a major impact on the township on November 8 following action by the Board of Trustees Tuesday evening.
The Trustees voted unanimously to place a 3.5 mil permanent levy for police services on the November ballot and then voted 2-1 to place Limited Home Rule before voters for a second time.
Those decisions came after a recommendation by the newly-formed Budget Commission and lengthy comments from residents.
Greg Brush, Chairman of the Budget Commission, said no levy proposal was perfect. He noted the tension between a levy that will adequately fund the police department but not overburden taxpayers.
The language of the levy is the same as the current police levy which means it can only be used to support the township’s police department – not a contract with the Sheriff’s Office or any other political entity.
The levy, if passed, would raise an additional $755,000 per year and cost property owners $122.50 for every $100,000 in property value.
Trustee Mike Lang suggested the levy should be for a 7-year term in order for it to be re-evaluated on a definite schedule. He was overruled by Trustees Nick Brusky and Joe Flanagan who preferred a continuous levy.
“Why come back and have to have this same discussion again,” said Flanagan, referring to the end of a 7-year levy. “Let’s give residents the opportunity to support the police department and not on a limited basis.”
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.
Projections for 2017 show a shortfall in the police fund of $572,000 in 2017 which rises to $657,000 in 2020.
Fiscal Officer Mark Adams said that much of the problem is related to reductions in revenue as the result of state action.
“This problem is not due to mismanagement,” said Adams. “The Township has lost $1 million annually in revenue from state sources.”
Flanagan noted that all the Trustees would be paying for the levy as well.
“We aren’t just asking you, we are paying ourselves,” said Flanagan. “We don’t enjoy more taxes either. I hope the township steps up to fund the police department.”
Limited Home Rule on ballot
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.
Lang, who voted with Brusky in favor of sending the issue to voters, noted that the last several months have pointed out a reason to support the measure. Limited Home Rule would allow voters to place matters on the ballot to overturn legislation passed by Trustees – an issue brought to light during the controversy over disbanding the township’s police department in favor of a contract with the Sheriff’s Office.
“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.
In other action, the Board of Trustees:
- Approved assessments for the collection of unpaid solid waste collection and disposal services for 126 accounts that are currently in arrears $21,035.97. After adding administration fees and a five percent fee for the County Auditor, the total outstanding is $35,318.41.
- Authorized Administrator Erika Vogel to contract with the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority for the purchase of property and commercial general liability insurance at a cost not to exceed $47,829.
- Accepted the bids for the Willowbrook Subdivision sidewalk, curb, apron, and ADA ramp repair program and awarded the bid to R.A. Miller Construction at a cost of $220,664.78.
- Set a public hearing for amendments to Zoning Article 16, Office and Industrial Sales/Service District and Article 2, Definitions, for Monday, August 8 at 7 p.m. during the regular Board of Trustees meeting.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.