Orange Township trustees found themselves without a fiscal office Monday when both the fiscal officer and his assistant tendered their immediate resignations. Trustees are now scrambling to appoint a fiscal officer before the township falls further behind in its fiscal responsibilities.
“Today, the board has received notice that our Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer resigned, effective immediately,” said Trustee Lisa Knapp, board chair, in the Sept. 17 regularly scheduled trustees meeting. “He and his assistant (Catherine McCarrell) resigned. They kind of left us in a very difficult position because we can not pay any bills, we can not perform any fiscal actions whatsoever, and further, we’re going to have to have a special audit.”
According to the township’s attorney, Michael McCarthy, the trustees have 30 days to appoint a fiscal officer.
Trustees will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. today in the township hall to discuss and possibly take action on appointing a new fiscal officer.
“I am resigning from the Orange Township fiscal office effective immediately,” Spitzer stated in his resignation. “… the township has had no findings for recovery nor significant issues through eight state audits… .”
Spitzer noted there were several reasons for his sudden departure, including the fact he wants to spend more time with his family and focus more on his law practice.
“I just can’t give the township…the attention it deserves,” he states. “In fairness to the people of Orange Township, they need someone who can give this proper time.”
Spitzer also said in a text message Tuesday, “The political climate within the Orange Township government over the last decade and the relentless online harassment I’ve endured has had a significant and lasting negative effect on my family and was a major factor in my decision to leave office. I’m done with that mess.”
As for McCarrell, Spitzer’s former assistance, Knapp said she was really disappointed to see her submit her resignation.
“I was very impressed with Ms. McCarrell and how attentive to detail she was, and she was really a great employee,” Knapp said. “I was very impressed with Ms. McCarrell and wish she had not resigned.”
McCarrell’s resignation also reported concerns of negativity in the township offices.
“I came here just over a year ago and enjoyed the people I worked with,” she states. “In the spring of this year, things changed, and I found myself resigning over a trustee’s comments about me.”
After being persuaded to return by Spitzer, McCarrell states, “Since then, the atmosphere has gotten progressively worse.”
McCarrell said she is grateful for Spitzer’s support to improve the situation and standing up for her when necessary. She states that the fiscal office is understaffed, even after posting for an additional assistant, the position goes unfulfilled.
“When I see so much disorder being reported through various news and social outlets, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to apply here,” she states. “Where I once saw teamwork, I now see distrust and people defensively trying to protect themselves. It’s upsetting to know people would like to see others fail at any cost.”
Knapp said that Patti Lewis, a former assistant fiscal officer under Spitzer, had offered to assist the township in the fiscal office matter.
“I thought she might be reluctant but jumped right in to do it,” Knapp said. “She is excited to help us, and I’m super happy about that.”
Lewis resigned in May from the fiscal office to accept a newly created Orange Township position of documents, website and cemetery coordinator after reaching an agreement with the township to drop charges she had filed in 2014 with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Oct. 16, 2017.
Lewis kept her pay rate of $24.48 per hour from the fiscal office; she retained her employee benefits package, vacation and sick leave time; and her accumulated time worked at the township to determine vacation time. She was also paid a one-time payment of $5,000, but the reason for such a payment was not mentioned in the resolution or the agreement.
Earlier this month, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners approved an intergovernmental cooperation agreement addendum for shared information technology services from the county to the township offices. But, the addendum excluded the township’s fiscal office due to accusations made by Spitzer toward Delaware County’s IT Director Steve Lewis, alleging email tampering.
It was announced in a July trustee meeting that the accusations had put the township’s IT contract with the county in jeopardy.
Township Administrator Lee Bodnar said Monday during the trustees meeting that he was talking with the county auditor to go back to the status quo, which involves sharing IT again with the township’s fiscal office.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.