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.
To me, the choices are clear:
Issue 42 – Energy Aggregation
In general, I am ambivalent on Energy Aggregation. I don’t think its necessary since all consumers have energy choices in Ohio and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio presents those choices in an easy to understand way on its website.
On the other hand, consumers who find the internet difficult to navigate would likely save money on their electrical costs. This could benefit the elderly or those who don’t understand their choices for whatever reason.
I can’t support this issue, however, due to the way it got on the ballot. There were no announced public meetings prior to a trustee vote and no request for proposals. In other words, the trustees voted to place the issue on the ballot with no competitive process. Approval won’t cost the township anything, but it will line the coffers of broker Trebel, LLC.
Energy aggregation may be a good idea, but it should be done with an open competitive process – not the first suitor who comes along. Voters should send that message with a NO vote.
Issue 43 – Limited Home Rule
Limited Home Rule (LHR) failed by an overwhelming margin in 2015, but I urge voters to give it a second look and vote YES.
This is a difficult issue to understand – LHR 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.
Some voters are concerned this places too much power in the hand of the trustees and that concern is understandable.
However, I believe LHR should be passed for one reason only – to be a check on the power of the trustees. Trustees Nick Brusky and Joe Flanagan should be on the campaign poster in support of LHR because their ouster of the Township Administrator and the attempted disbanding of the police department – against voter’s wishes – are the only reason LHR is on the ballot again.
LHR gives residents the ability to challenge actions of the trustees by ballot initiative – a right they do not have without LHR. Voters should say YES for no other reason than to be a check on the power of the trustees.
Issue 44 – Police Levy – 3.5 mil
Butler Township residents were clear in their desire to keep their own police department. The trustees’ decision to contract with the Sheriff’s Office was averted only because of existing levy language. Now is the time for the residents to show their support with a YES vote.
This levy would generate around $750,000 a year – enough to eliminate the need to subsidize the police department from the general fund as well as begin to build a reserve in the police levy fund for future operations.
It’s time to end the uncertainty with the township’s police department. Morale has most certainly suffered over the past nine months as a contract with the Sheriff was approved, then rescinded, in an atmosphere of mistrust and anger.
The township has hired a capable and respected Chief in John Porter. This levy will fully fund the department and allow it to move forward knowing it has the support of the community it serves.
In our nation’s current political climate, police departments around the country are finding themselves under siege. The men and women of the Butler Township Police Department deserve a YES vote on Tuesday.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.