TWINSBURG TOWNSHIP — Because not enough valid signatures were submitted, a proposed issue which would have allowed voters to decide whether they want the township to operate under limited home rule will not be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Township Manager Rob Kagler said Aug. 28 that he learned from the Board of Elections that only 80 signatures of the 98 obtained on petitions were valid. At least 88 valid signatures were needed for the issue to go on the ballot.
“Several of the signatures were not acceptable because they didn’t match the voter information which was on file at the Board of Elections,” Kagler said. “The Board is pretty strict about that.”
Kagler said since a handful of citizens were behind the effort to get limited home rule on the ballot via the initiative process, it is up to them to decide whether they will make another attempt to get it on a future ballot.
Reserves of Kensington resident Everett White collected the signatures, and said he feels bad that he fell a few short.
“There were a handful of other people who were going to help get signatures, but in the end they couldn’t help me,” he said.
White said he hopes to try again next year to collect enough signatures and get the issue on either the May or November ballot 2019.
“I don’t think there will be a problem getting the necessary amount the next time,” he said.
“Most of those who signed said they’d like to see the issue go on the ballot,” he continued. “The collection effort went well. There were a few who didn’t want to sign, but most of them were receptive to at least letting residents decide the issue.”
White said he believes home rule would give the township “a little more latitude to respond to citizens’ needs,” especially in the area of development.
Township officials also said limited home rule would give them greater authority and flexibility over certain matters, and would offer the opportunity for more efficient operations.
According to Township Trustee Jim Balogh, Ohio legislators recently lowered the population required for townships to operate under home rule from 3,500 to 2,500, and Twinsburg Township is eligible since it has about 2,800 residents.
“This is just another tool we could use to be more responsive to citizens’ needs,” Balogh said. “We’d be able to do more things on our own, and not have to go through the county for certain things.”
Limited home rule would not totally move the township away from reviews and some county controls, but it would streamline some functions and eliminate some delays in regard to zoning issues and the ability to negotiate contracts, Balogh said.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, limited home rule allows townships to “exercise all powers of local self-government” other than those in conflict with the general laws which townships operate under.
Examples of items home rule prohibits are enacting taxes, creating criminal offenses and establishing subdivision regulations.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org