Levy suit progressing in Lake Township

By Nancy Molnar

LAKE TWP.: Attorneys representing various parties are to submit written arguments by Monday to the Ohio Supreme Court in a lawsuit over a Lake Township police levy.

Township trustees and a citizens group are appealing the Jan. 25 decision by Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas that overturned passage of a continuing 4.5-mill police levy because of a ballot error.

Language on the Nov. 6 ballot understated the cost of the levy by a factor of 10, saying it would cost 45 cents per $1,000 of property valuation.

The office of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero is representing township trustees in the appeal.

On the same side of the issue is Citizens in Support of Township Police, chaired by Robert A. Moss, who was treasurer of the levy campaign committee. Canton attorney Charles Hall III, who also is the township trustees’ legal adviser, is representing the citizens group.

Citizens contesting the election, led by Greentown Auto & Truck Parts owner James Miller, are represented by North Canton attorneys Melvin Lute and Eric Stecz, as well as Michael Grady of Lake Township.

Grady is a Republican candidate for county prosecutor.

After initial arguments are filed, each side will have 10 days to respond, taking the time for written argument to March 29.

The state’s high court normally takes four to six months to decide, but a court spokesman said this case might be expedited because it concerns an election.

During the appeal, the Lake Township Police Department continues to serve the entire township. It was known as the Uniontown Police Department when its taxing authority was limited to nine square miles in the northwest corner of the township.

Property owners in the entire township are paying the new levy.

Lake police to stay on job, for now

uniontown-police-officerThe Lake Township Police Department will continue patrolling the community at least until April, according to an order issued Tuesday.

Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge John G. Haas continued an order he issued in January, making a ruling that overturns results of the Nov. 8 election, when voters narrowly approved a levy creating the police department.

A hearing to review the status of the appeal and the stay has been set for April 9.

Haas’ decision has been appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Because the ruling deals with an election, the court will review the case. Lake Township trustees and a citizens group that supported the levy filed the appeal.

In November, voters approved a 4.5-mill levy to create a police agency to serve the township. Plans were to have the Uniontown Police Department become a townshipwide department.

Opponents filed a lawsuit because the ballot incorrectly stated the tax would cost 45 cents per $1,000 of valuation, instead of the correct $4.50 per $1,000.