The Morrow County Township Association hears legislative updates and swears in newly elected trustees at their winter meeting.

Story and Photos by Donna Carver

December 31, 2013

The Morrow County Township Association held their quarterly meeting at the Handlebar Ranch on Thursday December 12. Host townships for the winter meeting were Congress, North Bloomfield, Perry and Troy.

Chairman Warren Davis opened the meeting by welcoming attendees followed by Secretary/Treasurer Paul Hinkle reading thank you cards sent to the township trustees from various 4H participants for their awards at the Morrow County Fair.

Davis and Hinkle presented perfect attendance awards for 2013 to trustees, associate members and fiscal officers. Those receiving awards included; Richard Lyman, Dixie Shinaberry, Tom Whiston, Paul Hinkle, Deana Detwiler, Barb Miley, Millard Fisher, Warren Davis, John Bayles, Lynn Shinaberry, Enoch Adkins, and David Lester.

Deana Detwiler gave the financial audit update. She reported that the beginning balance for 2012 was $8865.27. Income for the year was $7119 and expenditures were $6965 for an ending balance as of November 30, 2013 of $9019.27

The featured speaker, Heidi Fought, Director of Government Affairs at the Ohio Township Association gave an informative presentation on current legislation that affects townships.

The first piece of legislation she discussed was HB 10 or SB6 which requires mandatory training for township fiscal officers every year. Part of the bill allows two trustees to remove a fiscal office which the state association has issues with it. Fought stated that they are working on a compromise with legislators and the auditor of state who are behind the bill.

She discussed HB 157 which allows for a recall petition process for township officials. According to Fought the process can occur every 30 days and would be wasteful and costly to the townships.

Also discussed was HJR8 which deals with term limits. This bill would put before the voters of Ohio a constitutional amendment that would impose term limits for every elected official in the state of Ohio and all boards and commissions. The term limit for township trustees would be 12 years. Fought pointed out that a number of trustees in Morrow County have served over 12 years and that this would be a disservice to the Townships they serve.

Fought then went on to discuss more positive bills that would benefit townships. HB 221 would allow townships to use credit unions as the bank of choice if they choose to do so.

Fought stated that one of the state township association priorities deal with annexation. A village or a city will annex a territory that is owned by other political subdivisions using the expedited process. When they use this expedited process they don’t have to get the permission of the political subdivision. According to Fought there was a terrible oversight in the annexation reform law ten years ago. A new bill, HB277 fixes the problems with the old law. Fought strongly urged the trustees to send their support of HB277.

Other items of importance that Fought discussed were indigent burials. She encouraged townships to adopt the model Ohio Township Association’s definition of indigent. She also stressed the need for indigent burial policies to be adopted by the townships.

Fought discussed the importance of township having a resolution when they provide healthcare for employees. She encouraged the townships to make sure they have passed a resolution because the auditors are going to ask for copies of their resolutions so they can offer healthcare.

The last two items she discussed was the new more user friendly website. Legislative alerts, information about the state conference, pictures, township new etc. will be posted on the new website. They have also created a Facebook page that she encouraged trustees to “like”

The winter conference will be held Feb. 12 through the 15th at the Columbus convention center. Conference fees are $50 for the four days.

Elected and re-elected township trustees and 1 fiscal officer in attendence were sworn in by Judge Hickson. Ric Lyle won election for Mt. Gilead Fiscal officer after serving the unexpired term of the late Gerald Neptune. Newly elected township trustees included; Chester Township, Gary Shaffer, and North Bloomfield Township, Daniel Meadows. Re-elected Township trustees included: Bennington Township, Randy Steck and Enoch Adkins, Canaan Township Edward Sayers, Cardington Township, Donald Lee and Doug Heacock, Chester Township, Gary Shaffer, Congress Township, Terry Ruhl, Franklin Township, Robert Thomas, Gilead Township, David Lewis, Lincoln Township, Robert Brandum, North Bloomfield, Cory Miley, Perry Township, Raymond Meadows and Robert Donner, Peru Township, Charles Lynn and Milliard Fisher, Troy Township, David Baker, Washington Township, William Creswell and Dwain Peak, and Westfield Township Rosalie Wornstaff and Robert Davis.

The Township Association held their election of officers. Bob Davis explained that they tried to get two people to run for each position. He opened up each position from the floor. Lynn Shinaberry was the one nominated by the committee and no other nominations were offered.

Vice Chairman candidates were Robert “Bob” Thomas and Enoch Adkins.

Paul Hinkle was the only candidate for secretary treasurer and no other nominations were made. The ballots were cast and counted. The Vice Chairman race was the only race that had two candidates with Bob Thomas being elected Vice Chairman.

There was discussion about the need for a new township trustee booklet which lists the names and contact information for township officials. A motion was made and seconded to make a new booklet. A vote was taken and the motion passed.

A motion was made by Don Lee to support HB277 dealing with annexation. It was properly seconded. A vote was taken and the motion passed.

Lee expressed that he felt that there was a silent movement to do away with grassroots organizations that the country was built on and that the township work is. “We should speak up and work on things in our township and our state.” Said Lee.

Bill Creswell discussed a railroad crossing in Washington Township next to Crawford County on County Road 8. The township has been trying for several years to get the railroad to place a crossing gate placed there. As it currently is it is dangerous and large vehicles such as school buses have to be on the tracks in order to see if a train is coming. The railroad had suggested that the county close the road. The railroad commission wrote a letter to the commissioners offering $7500 to close that crossing. Creswell commended the commissioners for not accepting the money. “They did the right thing.” Said Creswell.

The spring meeting host townships will be Canaan, Cardington, Gilead and Washington. The meeting will be hosted in the new Washington Township facility, Cramer Hall in Iberia. Dwain Peak said that the main goal is to try to get more trustees to attend the meeting. The date and time will be determined at a later date.