Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Home rule plays well in Union Twp.

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNION TOWNSHIP — Home rule appears to sound pretty good to those who make their home in Butler County's fastest-growing township.

        Opposition to the adoption of the new form of township government was non-existent Tuesday evening during the second of two Union Township trustee meetings on the topic.

        “If you want the city services that an awful lot of people here want ... we can't get it in our current government mode,” Trustee Catherine Stoker told the sparsely attended meeting.

        If adopted, townships could pass ordinances and contract with independent legal counsel and engineers, rather than rely on county resources.

        Townships also could borrow at the same rate as cities, villages and counties under the law, and have longer to pay back such loans.

        “It will open doors and allow us to do more,” Township Administrator David Gully said.

        Converting to a home-rule township form of government will allow every township trustee decision to be open to ballot referendum and initiative options.

        “It would give people greater confidence in government,” Ms. Stoker said.

        The limited self-government, or home rule, form of township government was established in Ohio in 1991.

        Of the state's 1,309 townships, only eight have sought limited self-government, including Sycamore and Delhi townships in 1992, Hamilton Township (1993) and Symmes Township (1996).

        In May, Ohio passed a new law that gives townships the authority to adopt home rule on a unanimous vote by trustees, who before had to hold an election.

        Voters can seek a referendum on the trustees' decision should they object to home rule.

        That law took effect Sept. 20 and some other area townships are actively considering adopting home rule.

        This month, Deerfield Township adopted a home-rule form of local government.

        Union Township trustees are scheduled to take a final vote on the issue during their Dec. 21 meeting.


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