House bills to benefit Jackson Township

Legislative changes can both grant powers and take them away from municipalities and public agencies, but a trio of new ones could save Jackson Township time and money.

Administrator Mike Lilly reported on Senate Bill 268, which allows bid notices to be advertised only once if placed concurrently on a township’s Web site; House Bill 48, which authorizes townships to sell obsolete equipment on eBay; and House Bill 470, granting townships the authorization to enter private property to clear vegetation obstructing vision on highways after proper notice has been given.

Regarding the bill allowing access to private property, Lilly told trustees during a June 10 meeting, "Before it was only up to them (property owners) because it is on private property. Now (after proper notification) we have the right to go on private property, do the work, and then assess the cost."

House Bill 521, as proposed by Representatives Larry Wolpert and Larry Flowers, was intended to establish a commission to develop recommendations on reforming and restructuring local government. Nine voting members would have until July 1, 2010 to report on their findings in consolidating, reorganizing, or eliminating local government offices and tax-levying entities such as schools and libraries to reduce overhead, administrative expenses, and provide cost savings.

However, the bill – which drew stiff opposition when it was introduced – failed to be included in Ohio’s appropriation budget.

"The deal with the study is they tried to include it in the capital appropriations," commented Lilly, "but it didn’t make it, so it’s dead at this point."

Flowers previously said the commission could help streamline local government by suggesting ways to eliminate duplicate police forces, create joint fire districts, and weed out inefficient governments in struggling small towns. It could also lead to revamping school districts by consolidating small districts and by breaking down large districts to reach an optimal number of students. He said such actions would reduce administrative costs and joint fire districts  and could be created by combining several fire departments in an area to reduce administrative costs and to share equipment.

In other discussion, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is reimbursing the township for 75 percent of the total $13,366 cost for snow removal during a blizzard earlier this year.

The amount includes $3,559 for labor, $4,856 for equipment usage, and over $5,000 in salt. Jackson Township expects to receive $10,099 from the government in late July/early August.

Scott Harris, president of the township’s firefighter’s union Local 2672, told trustees the annual Safety Town program starts on June 12 and continues through June 20, when a graduation ceremony will be held for more than 300 kindergartners at Grove City High School.

"The program’s been going on for 28 years (by the firefighters) and before that it was run by the Jaycees," said Harris.

Events include a parent’s safety day, and programs on bike, playground, school bus, stranger, animal, fire, and poison control safety. Aside from the concluding ceremony at the high school, all other programming is held at J.C. Sommers and consists of two sessions each day.

"There’s no better program than Safety Town," added trustee Chairman David Burris.

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