SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP — Despite an Ohio Supreme Court ruling ordering a fire district levy off the March ballot, Sugarcreek Township officials still plan to pursue a ballot issue.
The levy would fund a newly created fire district, excluding the Cornerstone of Centerville and some surrounding roads including Interstate 675. That area has been the subject of failed negotiations between the township and the City of Centerville, who can’t agree on how much the city would pay the township for providing fire and emergency medical service.
The township passed a resolution Oct. 19, 2015 creating the fire district and then enacted another resolution proceeding to place the levy on the ballot. The latter came on Jan. 8, after the deadline to place items on the ballot had passed, but township officials argued that the Oct. 19 resolutions were sufficient.
The Ohio Secretary of State and the Greene County Board of Elections agreed, but in in a lawsuit filed by Cornerstone Developer Oberer Companies, the high court sided with the plaintiff.
“Kind of surprising,” Township Administrator Barry Tiffany said. “The secretary of state was good with it, the board of elections was good with everything. We rely on them to tell us what we need to do. They had certified it. Everything was good. I don’t know that the law was clear on this, but it’s perfectly clear now. The supreme court has ruled and that becomes the law.”
Tiffany said trustees have not decided when, but he did confirm that the trio will place another levy on the ballot.
“They’re considering a special election for August,” he said. “Minimum it will be on the fall. (The ruling) doesn’t undo anything. The end result is we expect the district to take effect early 2017. This is a good thing four our community. We recognize that.”
Once the trustees decide in which election to place the levy, they will pass new resolutions “just to be safe,” Tiffany said.
There is a chance the sides could still come to an agreement but Tiffany isn’t optimistic.
“We just continue to get the same response from them,” he said. “When we talk to them it’s their way or no way.”
Centerville officials have said that an agreement was reached, but allege Sugarcreek Township officials walked away from that deal.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.