Residents question township’s spending limit

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

A more than three-fold increase in the amount Madison Township trustees and department heads can incur on the township’s behalf garnered residents’ attention at the trustees’ July 10 meeting.

On the agenda was a trio of resolutions raising an individual’s spending limit from $750 to no more than $2,500 for purchases made by trustees, administrator, fire chief, police chief and public works superintendent with the administrator or trustees given the authority to revoke/revise the limit at any time.

Blacklick Estates Blockwatch Committee leader Reese Kenney said she nor any of her fellow residents had heard about the proposed authorizations.

“Why isn’t an issue such as this important enough to discuss under new business (on the agenda),” said Kenney. “How did something this important go straight to a resolution without allowing for discussion and public input?”

Trustee John Pritchard said the trustees held a public meeting in the spring with department heads and the issue was discussed then. He said comments focused on how the $750 limit was too low to benefit the township because it fostered micro-managing.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, the trustees are granted the authority to raise spending limits to the proposed threshold. In looking back over records past 1990, Administrator Susan Brobst said they could not find a resolution officially memorializing the $750 limit.

“If you have trustees that micro-manage, the department heads will not take ownership and will always turn to the trustees (for approval),” said Pritchard. “Based on the authority granted by the state, it seems to me the best thing to do, in terms of efficiency. We trust our department heads to make wise spending decisions.”

Pritchard said there are still internal controls with paperwork and procedures to follow for all purchases, despite the cost.

“I’ll still be asking for the data,” said Trustee Chairman John Kershner. “That’s not going to stop.

And it can’t preclude me from asking to see purchase orders before the money is spent. They’re annoyed with the level of detail in spending I’ve been looking at, but they can’t change that.”
Kenney said the public is not comfortable with the jump in spending and cited multiple signs naming the trustees at Brobst Park as an example.

“The cost of the signs is irrelevant, I know they didn’t cost that much,” Kenney said. “But whether they cost $20 or $200 each, the fact of the matter remains that someone who didn’t need approval thought it would be a good idea to purchase five signs—five signs—for such a small park. I think even all of you would agree that’s a bit overboard. It’s not the cost of the signs that’s relevant, it’s the example it showed to us of unnecessary overspending. And now you want to raise the limit from $750 to $2,500?”

The trustees approved three resolutions by a 2-1 vote, with Kershner voting against the resolutions. He also asked that his name be taken off of the list of names permitted to spend up to $2,500, saying he did not believe trustees should be able to act individually.

Police officer honored
Retired Madison Township police officer and former township trustee Gary McDonald announced legislation to dedicate a portion of Hamilton Road in memory of fallen fellow officer Dane L. Rowe. The effort is in the final stages of approval at the state level.

“This is something very near and dear to my heart,” said McDonald. “It’s something I’ve worked on for over 20 years and now a portion of the road will be known as Patrolman Dane Rowe Memorial Highway.”

The area is located between the intersections of Hamilton Road and Gerling and Hamilton Road and Wingate.

According to the Officer Down Memorial page, Dane was struck by a car on Nov. 4, 1988 while clearing an accident. The driver of the car that struck the patrolman proceeded through the accident scene after ignoring signals from another officer to stop.

Rowe passed away the following day. He was 24 years old and had served with the Madison Township Police Department for nearly 10 months.

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