By Amanda Ensinger
As the November election approaches, the Franklin Township trustees are clearing up confusion about their request to become a limited home rule government.
At a recent meeting, the trustees answered resident’s questions about becoming a limited home rule government, including if this will cost taxpayers money.
“What type of authority will you have with limited home rule and what are the costs?” asked Mike Blevins, township resident. “People are confused about this and I don’t know how to explain it to them. You say it won’t cost any money, but I don’t know if that is true.”
Township administrative assistant Jessica Rice, who has spearheading the efforts for the township to become a limited home rule government, addressed these questions.
“Limited home rule just allows us to enforce what Franklin County already has on the books,” Rice said. “It will help us clean up the properties and address concerns without having to go through the county. We will just be doing what the county already does, but at a faster pace.”
Trustee John Fleshman said the only cost to the township, besides spending approximately $3,000 to add this to the November ballot, is if they have to hire a recess officer to go out and start enacting orders by the board to clean up properties.
“I can’t say there is a 100 percent chance there won’t be any cost if we become limited home rule government,” Fleshman said. “However, we will be monitoring these costs.”
Trustee Ralph Horn said they envision having an employee who already works for the township take over these responsibilities to reduce expenses.
“In my opinion, it will not cost anymore for the taxpayers,” Horn said.
The trustees said the limited home rule government status gives the police department more authority to enact rules that already exist.
“I envision it as a way to just give the police more authority to go after junk cars and properties that need cleaned up,” Horn said. “We have never had this authority before.”
“I don’t see us using it for patrol issues,” Fleshman added. “I only see it as an extra tool when we need it.”
The trustees added that they hope that becoming a limited home rule government will bring money into the township as well.
“The fees from the cars we have been able to impound have helped pay for police items like tasers and cruisers,” Fleshman said.
Fleshman added that if the township becomes a limited home rule government, they are hoping they can impound more cars in violation and generate more funds for township services and equipment.
However, Franklin Township resident Robyn Watkins argued that the board wasn’t being transparent enough about the cost if the township becomes a limited home rule government.
“I looked this up and it says in the Ohio Revised Code, if we become a limited home rule government, we have to appoint an administrator,” Watkins said. “Even if a person who already works for the township is handling these tasks, they will need be paid for it. It is important that the public knows that someone will have to be appointment to this position.”
Township trustees said that there will be several public meetings coming up to ask questions and learn more about the benefits of a limited home rule government.
The meetings will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 at Central Baptist Church, 1955 Frank Road in Columbus.
The trustees authorized spending $360 on door hanging literature to educate the community about the limited home rule ballot issue.