Liberty Township taxpayers have paid $175,890 in total for the investigation, disciplinary hearing and settlement of former Fire Chief Tim Jensen, according to township documents.
Tuesday night Jensen was transferred to Fire Prevention Lieutenant in a resolution approved unanimously by trustees that became effective 8 a.m. Wednesday. The transfer was part of an agreement to drop all charges and bring an end to the disciplinary hearing brought against Jensen by trustees charging him with misconduct as fire chief.
Jensen was not at the trustee meeting, but The Gazette reported earlier Jensen saying he was ready to get back to work. “The sole thing for me is I’m pleased to have the opportunity to go back to work. It has been a long ordeal.”
While trustees went into executive session to discuss the resolution of Jensen being transferred, residents stood in the hallway waiting and talking.
Bruce Barnes, a Liberty Township resident, said he would like to know just how much the fire department has improved since Jensen had been placed on suspension. Bringing his thumb and index finger together he said, “Zero.”
Per the agreement with trustees, Jensen was to receive $48,000 as partial reimbursement of expenses. Tuesday night trustees approved the payment, which was grouped with other payments.
At the end of August, Jensen will have been paid about $45,500 while he was on paid administrative leave since March 1 — six months of his $91,000 annual salary as fire chief.
Trustees approved a total of $43,130 to Edward Kim’s law firm of Fishel, Hass,Kim, Albrecht LLP, as legal counsel in the matter against Jensen. The Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office had made a recommendation of the trustees finding specialized counsel for the disciplinary action.
Liberty Township trustees approved a payment of $26,334 to attorney Douglas Duckett, an attorney from Cincinnati, in connection with the investigation of Jensen and his conduct as fire chief.
Trustees paid $3,670 to retain Keith Muehlfeld, a retired common pleas judge from Henry County, with an active license to practice in Ohio to act as legal counsel and guide as they presided over the disciplinary hearing.
As the disciplinary hearing for Jensen went forward the Delaware County prosecutor’s office declined to participate as legal counsel for the presiding trustees, citing a desire to avoid “any appearance of impropriety or any appearance of additional bias,” according to an email to Kim.
The township also paid $9,256 for a report prepared by Youngstown attorney David Comstock Jr. in 2015. Comstock investigated the fire department and wrote a risk management analysis for it.
As a Fire Prevention Lieutenant Jensen becomes a member of the the IAFF Local 3754 and will earn $94,000 per year, according to his contract. While as fire chief Jensen was reported as earning $91,000 per year.
Both are base salaries and need to be compared in detail.
As provided by Liberty Township’s Human Resource Department the township pays $32,987 into the Ohio Police Fireman’s Disability and Pension Fund for the fire chief plus the base salary of $91,000 brings the total to $123,987. There is also the use of a vehicle and gas that could not be calculated.
As a Fire Prevention Lieutenant the township pays $22,547 into the Ohio Police Fireman’s Disability and Pension Fund, plus the base pay of $94,000 brings the total amount to $116,491.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.