Commissioners uphold lack of motion on Home Rule petition

By Lindsay Kriz - [email protected]

POMEROY — At their weekly Thursday meeting after an executive session with Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams, the Meigs County Commissioners made a motion to reverse their recent lack of motion regarding the Meigs County Home Rule Committee petition initiative. However, none of the commissioners made a motion during Thursday’s meeting, keeping intact the lack of action taken by the commissioners during a special July 14 meeting.

The first line of the petition reads: “We, the people of the County of Meigs, by this Charter secure the right of all County residents to participate in local government, which right is presently unavailable to residents under the statutory form of County government.”

According to the Commissioners, committee members dropped off a copy of the petition initiative at the Commissioners’ office April 30.

According to Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, the motion died during Tuesday’s meeting because the Board of Elections was to provide the commissioners a certification of both the signatures and a certification of the validity of the petition itself, along with a report. This information was to be delivered to the commissioners no later than 120 days before the general election, which would’ve been July 6. Smith said that on July 2, the commissioners received a letter from Director Becky Johnston and Deputy Director Meghan Lee. The letter told the commissioners that the petition had been filed with the Meigs County Board of Elections on June 24, and that at least 567 signatures (the minimum required amount) on the petition were valid.

However, according to Ohio Revised Code 307.95, the Board of Elections, and not the deputy director and director, must send the certifications and report to the commissioners. Smith said a letter was sent back the same day, July 2, to inform the Board of Elections of this.

According to the commissioners and the Meigs County Home Rule Committee, the Board of Elections had a special meeting July 13 and sent the commissioners the certifications and report the same day. From there, the commissioners had until July 15 at 4 p.m. to either pass a resolution for the petition or not. During their 11 a.m. July 14 meeting, the motion died for lack of a second because the Board of Elections turned in their certifications and report and to the commissioners a week after it was due, which would have been July 6, 120 days before the general election, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

At the Thursday, Aug. 6 meeting, one of the advocates of the petition initiative, Bob Berardi, said that whatever decision comes next rests in the hands of the lawyers for both the Commissioners and the Committee.

During their regular Thursday meeting the commissioners also approved a request from the Meigs County Historical Society/Museum for the second half of their appropriation for 2015 for $5,000. Commissioner Randy Smith also read a letter from Meigs County Historical Society President Margaret Parker.

The Commissioners heard two bids from the Shelly Company for Bedford Township’s resurfacing project and Middleport Village’s street resurfacing project. The bid for Bedford Township $31,648.32 and the bid for Middleport Village is $27,985.50. The commissioners voted to refer the bids to Denise Alkier, grants administrator.

The trio also approved the establishment of a new fund: B23, which is a 2015 litter management grant. This fund will help with the upcoming Meigs Cleanup Day on Sept. 12, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Meigs County Fairgrounds. Funding will be provided by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District, Meigs County Health Department and the Commissioners.

The commissioners also authorized Meigs County to participate in the Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program. Commissioner Mike Bartrum said that participation means that the state will pay 85 percent of the cost for participation if the county can come up with 15 percent. Exact amounts were not yet official.

Lastly, Jim Milliken, regional liaison for Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, asked the commissioners for support to approve a letter in support of online voter registration.

Milliken explained that 25 states already do this, and that this action is basically just registering to vote online instead of on paper. He said that this will be done through the Secretary of State’s secure server, and that voter information for any new voter must match up with their information provided to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Anyone registering online can also click a box that allows the BMV to transfer over a person’s signature from their BMV information to their voter registration information, allowing for a digital signature.

The Commissioners approved and provided Milliken with a letter of approval.

“This presents an easier opportunity to millenials,” Commissioner Smith said.

The next Commissioners meeting will be Thursday, Aug. 13 at 11 a.m.

Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.

By Lindsay Kriz

[email protected]