Trustee files affidavit to remove fiscal officer

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

A Franklin Township trustee wants to remove the township’s fiscal officer from office for alleged negligence.

At a recent board meeting, Franklin Township Trustee John Fleshman announced that he will be filing an affidavit of failure of performance of the fiscal officer and will be requesting the removal of Lisa Morris from office.

“When I took the oath of office, I took that seriously and want to give a report that I don’t want to give,” Fleshman said. “There have been a lot of late fees and different things costing the township money. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are being thrown under the bus, but I take the money of taxpayers very seriously.”

Fleshman alleged that the township has paid approximately $14,491 in fees as a result of Morris paying bills late since she has been the township’s fiscal officer. Fleshman added the township also lost out on a $30,000 grant from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Competition due to a 60-day lapse in coverage as a result of Morris not making the payments she should be making as part of her job.

“From Internet and phones being shut off to medical insurance being cancelled to late payments to vendors, the township has suffered as a result of this negligence,” Fleshman alleged. “Other errors have resulted in the township having to pay $903 for claims due to lapse in coverage, $1,000 in penalties for late contributions to the Ohio police and fire fund, no discounts on WEX Fuel due to several months of no payment and late paychecks and discrepancies with payments for employees.”

Fleshman added that so far this year, Morris has paid at least three vendors late, which has resulted in several late payments.

“The public has a right to hear this,” Fleshman said.

However, assistant to the Franklin Township fiscal officer Robyn Watkins came to the defense of Morris, who was not present at the meeting.

“The more revenue that comes in, the more work is added,” Watkins said. “Also, when the bills come in before we have a meeting, we can’t pay the bills until after the (trustees) meeting.”

Fleshman argued that invoices are turned into Morris in a timely manner and after payments are approved by the trustees they still aren’t paid for months. Watkins did admit that there has been issues with paying bills before she began working with Morris.

“When I came in, we were behind and I’m trying to get this corrected,” Watkins said.

The Messenger reached out to Morris several times for comment. Morris refused to comment and said all media requests must go through her attorney, Erica Ann Probst.

Probst provided this statement.

“We believe the comments made about Ms. Morris at the township trustee meeting were misleading, in most cases, false, and potentially defamatory,” Probst said. “Having said that, while we compile the information necessary to rebut each allegation levied by the specific township trustee, we will not be making any comment.”

This isn’t the first time Morris has faced controversy in the township. Morris was recently in violation of the Ohio Ethic’s Law for nepotism when she hired her daughter as the assistant fiscal officer.

“The prosecutor said this was in violation of Ohio Ethics and said this could create hard feelings,” Morris said at the time. “They told me this was not allowed, so I fired her.”

Franklin Township board president Ralph Horn said residents need to hear more facts.

“This all sounds very bad,” Horn said. “One thing I can tell you is the fiscal office just came off a two-year state audit from 2015 and 2016 and the findings were clean. There were errors in reports, but overall it was clean.”
Fleshman said he is not accusing Morris of theft.

“We are looking at negligence,” Fleshman said. “Paying bills on time and not costing the township thousands in fees is a crucial part of her job and she has demonstrated a failure to do this. This is why she must be removed from office.”

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