Wednesday, March 21, 2018
By samantha phillips
The township will soon be without a law director if trustees don’t agree on who should serve as legal counsel.
Mark Finamore, who served 26 years as the township’s legal counsel, sent his letter of resignation before the trustee meeting Monday night.
A resolution to accept Finamore’s resignation couldn’t be voted on or even tabled, because Trustee Arnie Clebone, who introduced the resolution, is unable to second a motion as chairman, and Trustee Jodi Stoyak declined to second it.
Clebone remarked that his inability to second a motion could keep any resolution that isn’t agreed to by Trustee Greg Cizmar and Stoyak from being voted on. Another resolution to retain Cherry Poteet as law director for Liberty Township had the same outcome; it was moved by Cizmar but Stoyak declined to second, so it wasn’t voted on.
Poteet’s proposed contract states the she would act as legal adviser, prosecute and defend all lawsuits as directed by the township, prosecute any violation of a township resolution and prepare resolutions and legislative documents. The proposed contract states Poteet would be paid $36,000 a year; Steve Shelton, fiscal officer, said the township spent $40,000 on legal counsel in 2017.
Atty. Frederick Coombs attended as a member of the public and said townships must seek a bid for a law director, and said the board is in violation if it reached out to Poteet and developed a contract without a bid.
“The Revised Code of the State of Ohio ... requires these types of contracts and any contract with the township or home-rule council, which is what we have here, to be put up for public bid,” Coombs said. “Let’s make sure we get the best bang for our buck here.”
Clebone said trustees did not advertise for bids but “got a very good recommendation from Weathersfield Township” about Poteet. Pat Ungaro, township administrator, said there can’t be any official action on Finamore’s resignation or hiring a new law director without a passed resolution.
“When two new trustees come in, it can be a difficult transition. Greg and I were voted in for a reason; people wanted change. Change sometimes is difficult. If we all the time try to get a consensus of three, we probably won’t move forward. If we get two and we have action, we are going to take it. I hope Ms. Stoyak appreciates that, too, and I apologize for any disrespect, but it’s not going to keep us from doing what I think the voters wanted us to do, and that’s affect change,” Clebone said, addressing the tension between him and Stoyak.
Also at the meeting, a resolution to establish a dog-tethering law that was introduced by Stoyak at a meeting in February was tabled again. The trustees decided to form a committee of citizens who will give their input and tweak the resolution.
Richard Tisone, police chief, announced Detective Sgt. Ray Buhala, Sgts. Mick Janovick, Dan Kovach and Michael Shuster and patrolman Dave Rankin won excellence awards. Ungaro announced that Liberty was ranked the safest township in Trumbull County and the 61st safest township in Ohio by the National Council for Home Safety and Security.