Commissioners, Orange Twp. to continue shared service

By D. Anthony Botkin - [email protected]

The Delaware County Board of Commissioners has approved an intergovernmental cooperation agreement addendum involving the commissioners, Delaware County Automatic Data Processing Board and the Orange Township Board of Trustees.

The addendum, which is relative to the provision of information technology services, was presented by Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa.

“This is an agreement that I worked on very closely with Lee Bodnar, (Orange) Township administrator, to arrive at an addendum that enables us to continue to provide shared services to Orange Township, while at the same time protecting our data center staff from any kind of a hostile work environment,” Kaitsa told commissioners during their regularly scheduled Thursday meeting. “This addendum reflects that work product.”

In response to the mention of “hostile work environment,” Commissioner Gary Merrell said, “It’s unfortunate that it’s kind of redefining the rules that we’re going to be playing by, but sometimes that happens, I suppose. I don’t understand why it has to happen, but it did.”

Merrell added it was a credit to the trustees, Bodnar, Kaitsa, and everyone involved in coming to an agreement on shared services to the township.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

During a July Orange Township trustees meeting, it was announced that accusations were made by the township’s fiscal officer, Joel Spitzer, toward Delaware County’s IT director, Steve Lewis, alleging email tampering had put the township’s contract for shared services with the county in jeopardy.

The issue began when Orange Township trustees voted June 14 in favor of approving an agreement with Assistant Fiscal Officer Patti Lewis involving the dropping of charges she had filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Part of that agreement was that Patti Lewis would resign from her position in the fiscal office and then be rehired by the trustees to the position of documents, website and cemetery coordinator under Bodnar.

“… Spitzer, with malintent, made numerous comments and accusations about … Steve Lewis, Patti Lewis’ husband,” Trustee Lisa Knapp, chairperson, said in a prepared statement during the July trustee meeting. “In fact, he (Spitzer) went into an all-out war against him (Steve Lewis) 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 were “unproven false accusations.”

Knapp told residents at the July meeting that the IT support the county provides is 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.”

Kaitsa told commissioners on Thursday that since the measure is only an addendum that simply changes some of the terms of the agreement and has no financial consequence, there was “really no need” for the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office to sign off on it. However, the agreement was approved unanimously by the Orange Township trustees on Aug. 6 in a regular meeting, and also by the county data board.

“I know that quite a bit of negotiation took place,” said Commissioner Barb Lewis. “I’m glad you are able to help the citizens of Orange Township.”

Commissioner Jeff Benton, a resident of Orange Township, said it was definitely the direction the county wants to go when it comes to leveraging the county’s highest level of expertise with other jurisdictions.

“Those create win-win situations,” he said. “We’ve got one here. It was a challenging situation, but we worked through it.”

According to the addendum, the agreement is that “any electronic data processing services necessary to accommodate the needs of the office of the Township Fiscal Officer, as separately determined by the Township, will be pursued under a separate contract with the chosen provider, which shall be as selected by the township.”

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.