The Liberty Township Board of Trustees elected Monday to not pursue two grant possibilities. One grant involved an electric vehicle charging station, while the other grant centered around a multi-use trail.
“I’m not even going to motion on that one,” Trustee Melanie Leneghan said about a resolution that sought to authorize Michael Schuiling, township administrator, to apply for a grant from American Electric and Power (AEP) to install an electric vehicle charging station at the YMCA.
According to the resolution, the township would be obligated to pay any cost not funded by the grant, up to but not exceeding $7,000.
“There’s possibly a cost to it,” Schuiling said. “The anticipation is that AEP would cover 100%, however, that’s not a guarantee. Within the grant itself, the township would be responsible for up to $7,000.”
Leneghan said she saw no reason for the people of the township to pay $7,000 for a charging station that only benefits a few who have electric vehicles.
“I see no reason to impose a $7,000 cost on the people of this township for the 10 people that have a Tesla,” Leneghan said. “If someone else wants to motion, they can.”
Schuiling told the board the longer it waits, the chances of getting the grant dwindles.
“It was a 100% funded grant, but we were unable to get it to the agenda. The first one was for fast chargers. The second is for just the AC charger. We could wait, but if we do, we risk not getting the grant,” he said.
Schuiling added in talking with people that use chargers and the people who install them, “They get used frequently.” He said the electricity used to recharge a car would be purchased using a cell phone app.
“The board of trustees could use it as a source of revenue,” he said. “They can charge as much as they want for that (service) and make it status quo so it just pays for itself.”
But, Leneghan remained firm on not making a motion to approve the resolution nor did her two fellow trustees speak up to move the resolution forward.
“The township is under no obligation to provide a place for people to take their Tesla,” she said. “We already have one sitting in Powell. There are plenty around if anybody wants to charge their Tesla.”
The resolution died for the lack of a motion by the board to move it forward.
The other resolution trustees decided not to act on would have authorized Schuiling to apply for capital funds for the construction of a half-mile multi-use trail in front of the new library being built on Home Road.
Schuiling told the board that he had been working with the Olentangy, Powell, and Liberty Trails Committee (OPAL) on the project. He said in order to increase the chances of receiving the grant, 10% of the project’s total cost had been set aside.
“This is a statewide bike path,” Leneghan said. “I’ve always been opposed to the people of Liberty Township paying for the State of Ohio’s bike trails, especially where it says that we’ll own it, which means we have to maintain half-a-mile bike trail.”
According to the resolution, 90% of the cost ($310,680) to build the path would be paid for from the state’s capital budget for the construction of multi-use trails. The remaining 10% of the cost ($34,520) would be the responsibility of the township, which would be the sole owner of the half-mile stretch in front of the new library, not the state.
Leneghan said she wasn’t opposed to paying for bike paths that help the children get to downtown Powell or to the YMCA.
“I’m very opposed to the people of this township paying for statewide bike paths, especially one where I don’t see where we get a very good bang for our buck,” she said. “A half a mile of a bike path is a lot to maintain when we’re not getting a ton of usage for it.”
Leneghan made the decision to “sit out” of the voting on the resolution.
However, in an attempt to move the resolution forward, Trustee Shyra Eichhorn made a motion to approve the resolution, but Trustee Michael Gemperline said, “I will vote for nothing regarding bike paths the rest of tenure as I was fraudulently accused of approving something that improved my personal interest. This could be the same thing here.”
The resolution died for the lack of a second on the motion to approve.
Also during the meeting, Cathy Buehrer, human resources manager, presented a resolution for expenditure to the law firm of Zashin and Rich, LLC for help with employment arbitration, union, and human resource issues.
“It is for arbitration issues that we have been dealing with and continue to deal with, and union issues,” she said. “We have a few grievances and arbitrations that have continued on.”
The resolution had a blank line for a monetary amount to be filled in, and Buehrer told the board it would need to decide on the amount before approving the resolution.
Leneghan asked Schilling to recommend an amount, which he did by stating, “15,000.”
Gemperline and Leneghan voted yes to approve a $15,000 expenditure to Zahin and Rich, while Eichhorn voted no.
In other business, the trustees:
• Approved the creation of a fund for the Braumiller Road improvements award from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
• Approved the fiscal officer’s recommendation on Appropriation Amendment 5 totaling $14.4 million.
• Approved the recommendation of the fiscal officer’s 2020 Resources and Permanent Appropriations totaling $12.9 million.
• Approved the purchase of computer equipment to upgrade the township’s aged equipment.
• Approved the renewal of the Olentangy, Powell and Liberty Trails Committee Charter.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.