By Amanda Amsel
With the new year comes reorganizations of boards. At the first board meeting of the year, the Prairie Township trustees reorganized and some saw pay increases.
Steve Kennedy will now be the chair for the Prairie Township trustees, while Doug Stormont will be the vice chair. Stormont also received a 5 percent salary increase, taking his salary to $21,596 a year. At the meeting the board also approved giving the fiscal officer a pay increase, effective April 1. This increase will take his salary from $28,176 to $29,585 a year.
“A September 2015 revision to the Ohio Revised Code statute covering township trustee compensation called for a 5 percent increase in trustee salaries in 2016,” said Tracy Hatmaker, Prairie Township administrator. “Since the Ohio Constitution states that elected officials can only receive an increase in pay at the beginning of a term, and Doug Stormont is the only member of the board beginning a new term this year, he is the only Prairie Township trustee to receive the increase at this point. This happened state-wide.”
The board also highlighted some of their objectives for the new year. Some of these objectives include moving forward with the Galloway Sports Complex, continuing to offer a full range of local government services (recreation, roads maintenance, fire, etc.) at a high level of quality, working with the Prairie CIC on economic development initiatives and working with partners to plan and implement I-270 and West Broad upgrades and maintenance.
“The main tool that Prairie Township will use to work toward meeting these goals is partnerships,” Hatmaker said. “We need to enhance our capacity to accomplish any one of these goals by bringing others to the table. For its part, the township will seek to supplement general fund, JEDZ and JEDD funds with grants and other state, federal, foundation sources.”
The township is already moving forward with some of these efforts by reapplying for the Clean Ohio Trail Grant. This grant would give the township up to $500,000 to use toward creating a trail that would have spanned from the community center to the Broad Street streetscape to the Camp Chase Trail. The township applied for the grant last year, but did not receive it. However, they are reapplying this year.
Some of the other objectives for the township highlighted at the meeting include working with the Darby Accord partners to establish an entity and/or position that will lead and coordinate Darby Accord implementation efforts, continuing efforts to fund and implement the Hellbranch multi-use trail in the township and reengaging in efforts to establish a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office substation in Prairie Township.
The township worked with the sheriff’s office to bring the substation to the township and even went into contract on a location. However, this fell apart when the Franklin County Commissioners said the sheriff’s office had to bid out the proposal. After reviewing the proposal, the township did not bid on it because it was not something they felt was in the township’s best interest.
According to Hatmaker, no communities bid on the proposal. With this opportunity still open, the township plans to work with the county in 2016 to hopefully bring a substation to the township.
Hatmaker said the township also plans to continue to research and work with the Franklin County Commissioners on water and sewer rates in the township. This has been another contentious issue in the township, with residents complaining their rates are almost double what other surrounding communities pay who get their water from Columbus.
For more information on the objectives of Prairie Township in 2016 or to learn more about the township trustees, visit www.prairietownship.org.