Trustees debate replacing the township administrator

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

The Franklin Township trustees debated if funds are available to hire a new township administrator. The issue was discussed at a special board meeting.

Franklin Township Administrator Mark Potts resigned, leaving the position open to fill.

Franklin Township Fiscal Contractor Jeff Wilcheck said the township administrator position had been budgeted for the next several years and that the 2021 budget still had funds available for the position. However, Franklin Township Trustee Ralph Horn said the 2021 funds leftover in the budget for the administrator position could be used for building repairs.

“Can you clarify; do you not want to replace the administrator at this time and use it for repair work?” asked Franklin Township trustee John Fleshman.

Horn said that he did not say that, but that he would prefer not to have an administrator for at least a year.

“The township is still under the direction and control of the state auditor’s office,” Horn said.

However, both the township attorney Peter Griggs and Fleshman said this has nothing to do with hiring a township administrator and the auditors are not dictating which positions the township fills. They said this is a policy decision.

“The board is on their own and they will pay the price for the decisions they make,” Horn said.

Fleshman said this is not creating a new position, but filling a position that is already included in the budget.

“The previous administrator obtained the CARES Act grant for $1.25 million and other smaller grants,” Fleshman said. “It is paramount that the township has a good administrator. The administrator can look for grants and keep the burden off the taxpayers. It is just a drop in the bucket to pay an administrator $100,000 (including benefits) when they can bring in a grant at over $1 million.”

The new administrator will also be responsible for keeping the JEDD moving and work on the redevelopment of the Westland Mall area.

Horn said he still does not support hiring an administrator.

“The township roads need fixed and we have not put any money into them in quite some time,” Horn said. “I’m not going to hire someone who is not going to bring their worth to the table. If the township needs to find grants, there are grant writers out there who would work for $15 an hour. I’m not spending $100,000 to $150,000 a year for money that can be used for other things.”

Fleshman said it is not true that roads in the township have not been fixed. He said the township was awarded a grant to pave every road in the Havenwood Townhomes area.

“The paving was done due to a $1.2 million dollar grant,” Fleshman said. “If the township does not have someone on the inside to do these types of projects, they will not get done. It is not the job of the trustees or the finance department to find grants. It is the position of the administrator to work on all aspects of the township.”

Trustee Aryeh Alex said he finds great value in having a township administrator and that the township should continue to have one.

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