Orange Township trustees announced Monday that accusations made by the township’s fiscal officer toward Delaware County’s IT director alleging email tampering has put the township’s IT contract with the county in jeopardy.
During a special meeting held June 14, trustees voted 2-1 in favor of approving an agreement with Assistant Fiscal Officer Patti Lewis that involved her dropping the charges she had filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Part of the agreement was that Lewis would resign her position in the fiscal office and then be rehired by the trustee to the position of documents, website and cemetery coordinator under Lee Bodnar, township administrator.
“Well, as soon as we did that, Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer, with malintent, made numerous comments and accusations about the county IT Director Steve Lewis, Patti Lewis’ husband,” Trustee Lisa Knapp, chairperson, said in a prepared statement. “In fact, he went into an all-out war against him simply because we hired his wife to work for us. Unfortunately, now, Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa has informed the township that the county plans not to renew its IT contract with us at this time unless Mr. Spitzer retracts his statement and his false accusations.”
Knapp said the accusations Spitzer leveled against the county’s IT director are “unproven false accusations.”
According to Tracy Whited, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, Spitzer had filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office but had since withdrawn it.
“I had some concerns. I asked for an investigation, and the response has been to hold the Orange Township IT contract hostage,” Spitzer said. “That’s troubling.”
Knapp said a criminal investigation was conducted, and no wrongdoing was found.
In an effort to confirm the investigation, The Gazette tried to contact Kaitsa but did not receive a return phone call from him Tuesday.
However, Knapp provided an email from Kaitsa to Spitzer that states, “… To my knowledge, Steve Lewis has not accessed any servers dedicated to Orange Township, or email addresses, account set-ups or email content related to Orange Township. My understanding is that the Orange Township servers reside in their own secure domain.”
According to Knapp, IT support from the county is provided at a reasonably low cost to the township.
“They basically provide it at a very low rate,” she said. “The employees are very responsive, and we have a great relationship with the commissioners who provide the budget for that department. This could cost us so much money and ruin a lot of things. We’ve got three months to fix this.”
Knapp said there are many important projects that could be impacted, and it could even have an impact on Patti Lewis’ new position.
“Lewis has several things she is currently working on, but if there is a delay… it’s a possibility that we could have several months she could not be working on document imaging if this gets stretched out. Laying off Patti Lewis could be an indirect repercussion of Spitzer’s actions,” Knapp said. “We haven’t looked that far ahead yet.”
Knapp said that the contract with the county expires in October.
“We’re basically in a holding pattern currently, and we’re not even sure if we’re going to be renewing it in October,” she added. “George Kaitsa is most likely going to cut our contract … resulting in massive cost increases, … and a soured relationship. The residents and Orange Township will foot the bill for Spitzer’s personal vendetta.”
The Gazette contacted Trustee Debbie Taranto, who was out of town and not in attendance during Monday’s meeting, for comments about the situation between the township and the county.
“What’s interesting about the whole thing is that the contract is with the board of trustees, not the fiscal office,” she said.
Bodnar was asked for updates on the situation to which he said he did not have any, but he would continue to seek a resolution to the matter with the county and would provide an update at the next meeting.
Trustee Ryan Rivers had no comment when he was asked by Knapp if he wanted to make one.