Revised & republished 05/17/2012
Originally titled: "LAKE TWP" POLICE DEPT IS NO MORE AS OF THE END OF MORNING PATROLS (5/16/2012). SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS STARK COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUDGE JOHN HAAS IN INVALIDATING LAKE TWP WIDE POLICE DEPT VOTE OF 11/06/2011
As media waited in the Stark County commissioners outer area while the commissioners were in executive session (late November, early December 2012), a conversation ensued between media persons (including yours truly) with Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.
Zumbar was firm in his conviction that Lake Township Issue 6 for expansion of the Uniontown Police Department into a township wide operation was likely in for trouble should the vote outcome be challenged because of the ballot language to strictly complying with Ohio statutory law.
Stark County Auditor Alan Harold checked with state officials and elected to go ahead with changing Lake Township tax bills notwithstanding the controversy surrounding erroneous language.
The Report was a little taken back on Harold's proceeding in light of his history of being a stickler for details on the matter of paying and authorizing former treasurer Gary Zeigler (now resigned/retired) to use county equipment once he was restored to office by the Ohio Supreme Court back in 2011 pending a bond being obtained to cover Zeigler as a government official.
So yesterday, yours truly got Harold on camera to explain to UPD/Lake Township taxpayers how the reversal of the tax will work out.
Challenge was all but certain at the time because sloppy local government work (i.e. by the Lake Township trustees, the Stark County prosecutor's office and the Stark County Board of Elections) allowed the issue be placed on the ballot with a glaring error in the ballot language.
Instead of saying that the issue, if passed, would cost $4.50 per thousand of valuation; the language was that it would cost $0.45 per thousand of valuation.
As it turns out, Zumbar was correct.
The high court (LINK to the decision) put it this way in affirming Haas:
This case presents the extreme circumstances of a misstatement inSo the decision seemingly wraps up the Stark local government screw-up of a simple ballot question as to whether or not Lake residents wanted to go to a township wide police department. (LINK to a prior blog which goes into more of the details of the debacle)
ballot wording that understated a proposed tax levy by ten times less than the true amount to be collected, which misled the voters and clearly affected the integrity of the November 8, 2011 election on Issue 6.
But not quite.
The sloppy work costs Stark County and Lake taxpayers money.
From the county side, one must ask: How much in person hours and the concomitant expense will it take to undo the county treasurer and county auditor reworking of Lake Township property tax bills to implement Issue 6 and how much will be added in undoing the work?
From the township side, one must ask: How much did the township spend on legal counsel (township attorney Charles Hall, III) in getting flawed ballot language drawn up and how much has the township paid Hall to deal with the matter through the processes of litigation in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas and the Ohio Supreme Court? Moreover, How much in township administrative time, police administrative time, effort and patrol person hours have Uniontown Police district taxpayers financed as a consequence of the less than sterling work done on Issue 6? Were more personnel hired to go township wide? If so, are there to be layoffs and at what expense to the taxpayers? What about the expense of rework of UPD police cruisers to make them identifiable as township police cruisers?
And on and on go the questions.
Notwithstanding the expense of the the local government snafu (the Ohio secretary of state got it right), opponents of Issue 6, understandably, are supportive of the Supreme Court ruling.
As you may recall, I testified against this illegal levy back in January, so I am pleased to see the Ohio Supreme Court make the correct decision. Regardless of how one might feel about an extended police department, one can NEVER justify getting it through the trickery and deception of taxpayers. Justice has been served.Trustee Arnold told The Report that he was disappointed that the Supreme Court sided with the township voters who challenged the validity of the election.
Voters everywhere have Mike Grady, Eric Stetz, Jimmy Miller, and countless others to thank for protecting their freedom. Had this illegal ballot been allowed to stand, it would have been a slippery slope for the future.
Moreover, he said that trustees will be meeting in public session with township legal counsel today (May 17th) at noon at Lake Township Hall. However, township officials indicated to the SCPR that there likely would be no "public speaks" section of the agenda of items to be covered by trustees.
Longer term, it will be interesting to see what political repercussions of the invalidated vote will have in 2013.
Trustees Ellis Erb and Galen Stoll are up for re-election.
Should they decide to run, it is not likely that either will be receiving many votes out of precinct 21.
Four or five hundred votes is an large number of votes for a candidate to overcome, no?