FT approves new fiscal officer, prevention vehicle
(by Heather Taylor, Staff Writer - February 07, 2009)
Franklin Township Trustees voted to replace the damaged fire prevention vehicle in a two to one vote at a special meeting Jan. 28. The fire prevention vehicle had sustained damage from a deer collision in early December.
Fire Chief Richard Howard estimated fixing the vehicle would cost approximately $3,900 and the payout from insurance was $2,400. The new vehicle, a 1997 Dodge Durango, was purchased for $6,200.
“I’m not trying to put the board on the spot, I thought it was a good deal, we looked at it, it looks like a good cost,” said Howard.
Trustee Don Cook said the vote was merely a formality and the other two trustees had already agreed to replace the fire prevention vehicle.
“Just like other meetings, its just like a train came right through that front door and out the back. The residents got railroaded again,” said Cook.
Trustees Tim Guyton and Paul Johnson denied that there was any collaboration on their part.
“I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do, I didn’t have any idea what you (Cook) were going to do, I didn’t have any idea what Paul was going to do,” said Guyton.
“Chief Howard isn’t going out and spending $20,000 on a new vehicle,” said Johnson. “They’ve looked around and they’re satisfied this will meet their needs in the department. This is pretty inexpensive transportation, so I would vote yes.”
Cook later said part of his issue with replacing the fire prevention is Guyton’s refuses to replace a township dump truck.
“We got a truck sitting out there that we put $7,000 into repairs and your statement always was then, ‘Drive it till the wheels come off, drive it till it its junk.’ That car out there could’ve been repaired just like that truck could’ve been repaired,” said Cook. “Why don’t we repair this car? He sat right there and said its safe to drive. Why not repair it and keep on driving?”
Guyton said he did not want to comment on the road department truck.
The trustees also voted to replace the current fiscal officer, Kathryn Wihl, with Bonnie Watkinson at an unspecified date in either March or April. Wihl is retiring for personal reasons.
Guyton said Watkinson has a professional background and was planning to retire until she heard about the position.
“She has told us she’d like to take this on. She never intended to completely quit the workforce. She wanted to do something else,” said Guyton.
Cook did not render a vote and said before the meeting he took issue with the process because Watkinson is Guyton’s sister-in-law and Cook thought Guyton should have abstained from voting.
“That never happened before. When my wife was appointed, there were three other trustees, I wasn’t a part of the board,” said Cook.
Guyton did admit that Watkinson is his sister-in-law but said that this is not a conflict of interest and Watkinson is an honorable person.
Jennifer Hudson, chief advising attorney for the Ohio Ethics Commission, agreed that there is nothing wrong with Watkinson’s appointment since she is related by marriage and not by blood.
“Usually when we’re talking about close family members, we’re not talking about an in-law unless they are residing with the official. No law prohibits that. What it prohibits is a spouse, parent, child, something along those lines,” said Hudson.
Guyton said he voted because his job is to appoint the most qualified person for the position and he as a responsibility to vote just as the other two trustees. “Having relations on the board has been past practice simply by the voters of Franklin Township election. Don and Crystal were husband and wife sitting at the table together. Barb Seger and Ed Seger, who was clerk then. All four were elected,” said Guyton.