Trustee looks into legal costs of home rule

All three trustees have said they support the limited form of self-government.
AUSTINTOWN -- The vote on home rule in this township won't be held for at least another few weeks, according to Trustee David Ditzler.
Ditzler said before the vote that he wants to meet with Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains to discuss the cost of interpreting the legal issues associated with home rule. He noted that the Boardman Township trustees signed a $40,000 contract allowing the prosecutor to serve as their legal representative when it comes to home rule.
The Austintown trustees could avoid some of those costs by having Township Administrator Michael Dockry be their home-rule legal representative, Ditzler said. Dockry is an attorney.
What it is: Home rule is a limited form of self-government that would give the trustees the authority to pass health, safety and sanitation ordinances. All three trustees -- Ditzler, Bo Pritchard and Richard Edwards -- said they support home rule.
Pritchard said he wants to make a motion to approve home rule tonight. The motion would allow home rule to take effect in mid-February.
The vote on the motion has to be unanimous to pass.
Ditzler said he will speak to Pritchard about delaying the vote before tonight's meeting.
Trustees had said they expected to pass home rule in December. However, the vote was delayed until after Pritchard replaced former Trustee Jeff Groat on Jan. 1. Groat, who is running for county commissioner, did not seek re-election as a trustee.
Ballot: Pritchard said that if his motion passes, he would ask Dockry to determine if home rule can appear on the general election ballot in November. He said that would give township residents nine months of experience with home rule before they decide if it's right for their community.
"They can get a very good education on what it could address and what it can't address," he said.
Home rule has failed each of the three times it has appeared on the township ballot in the past.

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