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 Township trustees meeting of March 12

By Mary Ann Kannam

LAKE TWP. —KEY ACTION  Agreed to own and manage East Nimishillen Cemetery.

DISCUSSION  The East Nimishillen Cemetery Association is transferring ownership and control of the cemetery to the trustees because of a shortage of volunteers to operate the property.

OTHER ACTION  

• Trustee John Arnold told resident Don Williamson he will contact Lake Local Schools Superintendent Jeff Wendorf about Williamson’s concerns about the removal of a barricade from Lisa Avenue NW. The barricade was removed from the property owned by the school district to alleviate traffic during a road improvement project. Residents believed the change was temporary. Since the completion of the project, the street remains open. Arnold asked Williamson to gather signatures from neighbors who agree that drivers are cutting through their neighborhood near Lisa Avenue to avoid traffic lights.

• Authorized spending up to $8,835 to buy 15,000 pounds of asphalt sealant from DJL Material of Akron for the Road Department.

• Increased the employees’ share of medical insurance premiums from 6.8 percent to 10 percent and accepted the pay scales for all nonbargaining employees of the Road Department and administrative offices.

• Said a decision is expected in May about the trustees’ appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court involving the overturned election results of a levy that passed Nov. 8 to expand the Uniontown Police Department to become the Lake Township Police Department.

UP NEXT  Meet at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at Township Hall.

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.

Stark County reviews Lake Twp. levy error

By Nancy Molnar

Uniontown Police LevyCANTON: A state official alerted the Stark County Board of Elections in July about flawed ballot language in a Lake Township police levy that was approved in November but successfully challenged in court.

Gretchen Quinn, elections counsel for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, pinpointed the error in the statement about the cost of the levy that caused Common Pleas Judge John G. Haas to void the election results Wednesday.

“(B)allot language states tax will be levied ‘at a rate not exceeding four and one-half (4.50) mills per dollar of taxable valuation, which amounts to forty-five cents per one thousand dollars in taxable valuation.

“A 4.5 mill levy yields $0.45 per $100, but $4.50 per $1,000,’’ she continued in a handwritten note. “BOE may want to confirm millage with taxing authority.”

The July 27 communication to an election board employee included approved ballot language reflecting the correct cost.

What happened after that is in dispute.

Jeffrey Matthews, deputy director of the county board of elections, said an elections worker said she told township attorney Charles D. Hall III about the problem over the phone.

“That did not happen,” Hall said Monday.

He said township officials first learned of the matter when Uniontown police Chief Harold Britt went to the board of elections to get a list of township voters. The information then was relayed to township Fiscal Officer Ben Sommers on Oct. 13. Sommers then told Hall.

But by then absentee ballots already had been mailed and others had been prepared.

Hall said local elections officials missed the chance to attach the memo from the Secretary of State’s Office on Aug. 25, when Stark elections Director Jeannette Mullane sent the township a notice saying the police levy would be Issue 6 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The letter, received at the township office Aug. 26, says in part, “You will receive a copy of the ballot language once it is approved by the Ohio Secretary of State.”

“If that attachment had been delivered to the Board of Lake Township Trustees on Aug. 25, the Lake Township Board of Trustees would still have had the opportunity to correct the ballot language,” Hall said.

Matthews acknowledged the mistake in the ballot wording should have been communicated to the township in writing.

“It’s clear there were errors made in procedure, but ultimately what was submitted to the voters matched the resolution that was passed by the township trustees,” Matthews said.

A similar mistake recently occurred in ballot language Hall submitted to the Board of Elections for Perry Township, where he serves as law director.

The resolution to put the issue in the March primary election said the 0.5-mill police renewal levy would cost 50 cents for each $100 of property valuation.

Matthews and Mullane sent a letter to Hall on Dec. 21, telling him, “One-half mill should be five cents for each one hundred dollars of valuation.”

Hall said he fixed the error promptly, as he would have done if notified in a timely manner of the problem in Lake.

Lake Township trustees are appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court the ruling that negated the results of the November police levy vote. The county Board of Elections decided Monday not to join the appeal.

The ballot issue expanded the territory and taxing authority of the former Uniontown Police Department to all parts of Lake Township not served by the Hartville Police Department.

Judge Haas’ order has been stayed by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione, and Lake Township police cruisers are still patrolling the newly created district.

Police levy causes stir among Lake Township Residents

By Tracy Valentine | The Suburbanite
Police levy causes stir among residentsLAKE  Residents voiced their objections to the passage of Issue 6 in a Nov. 14 standing-room-only Lake Township Trustee meeting.Issue 6 is a 4.5 mill levy that expands the Uniontown Police Department to cover all of Lake Township, except Hartville.
“Why does the rest of Lake have to pay for it? We don’t need it,” resident Vito Spano said.Residents Donald Tuck and Ken Kurtz agreed. The men said they will going to have to pay for the increased taxes on fixed incomes.
The two major issues the residents also addressed regarding Issue 6 were the cost of the levy and the typographical error on the ballot.Other residents supported the levy.

“The voters decided this issue. So if you’re mad, that’s who you should be mad at,” LeeAnn Ramirez said.

Resident  Tim Davis wasn’t sure about the levy. “I don’t have the money either. But you don’t appreciate it until you need it. If the community is going to move forward it’s something we need.”

Lake Township’s attorney Charles Hall addressed the ballot typographical error. The ballot incorrectly stated the levy was at a rate of 45 cents per $1,000 per tax valuation.  The levy was actually for $4.50 per $1,000 per tax valuation. Hall explained that he and the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, the Stark County Board of Elections and the Ohio Secretary of State all failed to catch the mistake.

Resident Dan Robinson asked Hall if the error voided the ballot. Hall said it did not. He added that he reviewed all the material residents saw prior to the election, and that information was correct.

Hall also said the Ohio Supreme Court has previously upheld votes on other ballot issues.

Two residents asked about drilling approved on land near the former Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL).  Norma Bolt and Elizabeth Dixon asked several questions regarding the rules for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The women wanted to know what requirement exist for fracking pipes, a possible holding pond and truck routes for the drilling companies.

Trustee President John Arnold said that the township does not have the expertise to answer her questions. He referred them to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency EPA.
Dixon asked if the Township could file an injunction to have drilling stopped next to the landfill.  Arnold arranged a meeting with Dixon and the Township attorney to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit.
Other business:
*Approved — the reappointment of Dr. Ronald Weisel III to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a five-year term.
* Accepted – The resignation of Harold Thompson, effective Dec. 31. Thompson is retiring after 32 years of service as an operator/laborer with the Road Department.

The next Lake Township Trustee meeting is scheduled for Monday Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at 12360 Market Ave. N, Hartville.