AUSTINTOWN Trustees to check law on home rule

Trustees approved $5.7 million in temporary appropriations.
AUSTINTOWN -- Township officials have decided to seek a legal opinion on sending the question of home rule to the voters after it's taken affect in the township.
On Monday, Trustee Bo Pritchard asked Township Administrator Michael Dockry to determine whether home rule can appear on the ballot after it's been imposed by trustees.
Dockry said he will most likely meet with representatives of the Mahoning County prosecutor's office in the next few weeks to discuss the issue.
Home rule is a limited form of self-government that would give the trustees the authority to pass health, safety and sanitation ordinances.
It can be imposed through a unanimous vote of the trustees or a majority vote of township residents. Home rule has failed each of the three times it has appeared on the ballot.
Where they stand: All three trustees -- Pritchard, David Ditzler and Richard Edwards -- said they support home rule. Pritchard, however, said he would like to give township residents a chance to experience home rule before they decide if it's right for their community.
Dockry, who is an attorney, noted that he thinks any home-rule ordinances passed by the trustees would have to be rescinded if home rule is not approved by the voters.
Ditzler said that he wouldn't object to home rule's appearing on the ballot after it is approved by the trustees. Edwards, meanwhile, said he wants to discuss with Pritchard putting home rule on the ballot before forming his opinion on the issue.
Pritchard had said he had planned to make a motion to approve home rule at Monday's trustees meeting. On Monday, however, he said he decided not to make the motion after learning that some of his fellow trustees had some legal questions about home rule.
Ditzler has said that before the motion is made, 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.
Other business: On Monday, the trustees also approved $5.7 million in temporary appropriations for this year. A large chunk of that money is set to go to the township police department, which can receive $2 million. The appropriations can be modified during the year. During Monday's meeting, the trustees also elected Ditzler chairman and Edwards vice chairman.
The trustees will meet at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of each month in the township administration building.

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