Standing in the foyer of the Liberty Township Hall Monday evening, several members of the grassroots organization Save Our Services (SOS) were asking residents to sign a petition for “removal for cause” of Liberty Township trustees Melanie Leneghan and Michael Gemperline.
Seeming upset, Gemperline said before the trustees meeting that what the grassroots organization was seeking wasn’t possible, because he had talked with both the county prosecutor’s office and the Delaware County Board of Elections, both stating there was no such thing as a recall petition.
The Save Our Services group was organized in October to lobby against trustees turning over control of the township’s emergency medical services (EMS) to Delaware County EMS.
However, a township resolution remains tabled that would dissolve the township’s EMS and forcing the county — by law — to provide the township with the county-operated EMS.
In other business, the trustees were to hear from Scott Belcastro, the principal owner of Trebel, LLC (a certified aggregator with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), on the township’s natural gas aggregation, but without notice, the representatives of Trebel failed to show for the regularly scheduled meeting.
Yet, the energy consultant firm had sent a resolution asking trustees to authorize all actions necessary to enter into a master services agreement with Volunteer Energy Services Inc. on a 24-month program to supply natural gas to the township and to “declare an emergency.”
Cathy Buehrer, the township’s administrative assistant, said she had received the 19-page resolution at 3 p.m. Monday, which was sent on to the prosecutor’s office. Since it was late in the day, the assistant prosecutor could not look it over.
“I had an email saying the rates came in sometime last week, and there has been movement upwards, so he wanted the contract signed tonight,” Buehrer said. “That was the only information I got from him.”
Leneghan made a motion to approve the resolution.
“The beauty of resolutions is when you pass one, you can unpass it within hours,” she said. “If the prosecutor determines there is anything wrong, all we have to do is unpass the resolution.”
Buehrer interjected before a vote was taken, stating that by approving the resolution, trustees would be “signing a contract as well.”
“I wasn’t happy with the process when the (electric contract) was passed in the last meeting,” said Trustee Shyra Eichhorn. “Yet again, I feel we’re in the same situation. They got the bids on April 8, and we didn’t get (the resolution) until this afternoon. Then they said it’s a rush situation, I don’t like how that procedure is going. We could have gotten this on Friday and had the weekend to look at it.”
During the trustees’ April 1 meeting, at the insistence of Belcastro, trustees voted 2-1 in favor of authorizing the township administrator to sign an agreement for electric power aggregation once the supplier bids were received by Trebel LLC on April 8.
“I’m not comfortable with the agreement,” Eichhorn said at that time, but since then has said she was now much more comfortable with the electric aggregation contract but still didn’t like the way things had been handled.
Monday evening, the trustees also approved a resolution authorizing the county prosecutor’s office to negotiate and/or clarify the contract terms with Trebel for the approved electric power aggregation contract.
Gemperline said his understanding of the natural gas aggregation resolution was that it was a template used in other townships for similar programs. He said the prosecutor’s office has seen and approved the same template for the other townships.
“This a rubber stamp basically,” he said. “Though the prosecutor’s office has to look through it and verify it. It is a copy of one that they have already approved, so it’s sort of an automatic that they are going to approve this one.”
With that said, Leneghan moved forward with a motion to vote on the resolution.
Both Leneghan and Gemperline voted yes with Eichhorn voting no.
“This probably will not be a bad contract,” Eichhorn said. “It’s just the process I don’t agree with.”
Trustees approved a resolution in July 2018 engaging Trebel LLC in an energy consultation and management agreement.
The issue was placed on the November 2018 ballot with 59 percent of voters approving the aggregation of electric and natural gas.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.