Perry Township Board of Trustees

Special Meeting

December 29, 2011 12:00pm

Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance:

Present:  Trustee Laubacher, Trustee Chessler, Fiscal Officer Schlegel, Law Director Hall and Administrator Fetzer

Excused absence:  Anna Capaldi, Trustee

Additions/Deletions to Agenda: None.

Consider the Adoption of a Resolution Regarding the Source and Method of Payment of Salaries Effective January 1, 2012

Trustee Laubacher stated that he feels as if Trustee Chessler should have come to him as the Board President in reference to calling this special meeting.  Trustee Capaldi was willing to make arrangements to come to the special meeting if it were held in the evening but for some reason Trustee Chessler was unwilling to meet at that time.  Trustee Chessler stated that Trustee Laubacher’s comments were noted.

Trustee Chessler stated that the Board was notified by the Law Director of an Auditor’s bulletin dated October 27, 2011.  The bulletin outlined recent legislative changes that altered the statutory landscape that governed Township Fiscal Officer and Trustee compensation.  The Law Director had provided the Board with a copy of the interpretive guidance.  The most significant of that bulletin is that the Auditor’s interpretation now would require the Board of Trustees and Fiscal Officers that had chosen to apportion salaries over specific funds to sign periodic certification of those funds.  The Law Director noted that and provided a sample payroll certification that does required the affected person to sign it and certify those percentages are accurate.  Trustee Chessler stated that he does have a problem with that but his greater problem is since the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution on December 21, 2010 to consider salary apportionment there have been comments made at meetings and otherwise criticism of this methodology in that the levies that previously gained voter approval were not represented to the people that they would be affected by salary apportionment.  Trustee Chessler stated that he has had some changes in his thinking on whether this was a good way to apportion salaries.  The other thing that comes into play is that the statute that the Law Director pointed the Board to states that if the method is going to be changed it has to be done in the year prior to the January 1 of when it will take effect, hence, the need for this Board to act in 2011.  Trustee Chessler stated that he was not going to take the chance because of people’s schedules that this wouldn’t take place.  Trustee Chessler stated that he did take the initiative to call the special meeting which was a necessity.  

Trustee Chessler stated that he had asked the Law Director in addition to the first proposed resolution to provide an alternative resolution that would allow each elected official to make a determination on their own to elect to have their salary apportioned as it has been done in the past or to have their salary taken from the general fund.  Trustee Chessler stated that he had his thoughts and preferences on that which has been articulated here today but he wanted to give his colleagues the opportunity to elect for themselves on how they want this to be done.  Trustee Chessler stated that it is his opinion and hopes that he has the support of the Law Director in that if the Board is going to go back to or change the method it had to be done in this year to be effective for next year.  Mr. Hall drafted a resolution that would allow elections to be made by the three (3) Trustees and Fiscal Officer as to how their salaries will be apportioned next year.  

Trustee Chessler made a motion that the Board adopt the resolution provided by the Law Director authorizing the Perry Township Board of Trustees to permit each individual Trustee and Township Fiscal Officer to elect compensation from either the General Fund or to apportion the Trustees and Fiscal Officers salaries and benefits among all Township Funds pursuant to the applicable revised code sections; Seconded by Trustee Laubacher.

Trustee Laubacher stated that the Law Director also provided an email that states that a motion can be made in January if the Board would like the salaries to revert back to the General Fund.  Trustee Chessler stated that he discussed that matter with Mr. Hall because he is gravely concerned that, that is not correct.  According to the very clear language in section 505.24 C, any change in the method of compensation shall be effective upon the first day in January of the year following the year during which the Board has voted.  Trustee Chessler stated that if the Board waited until 2012 to vote then he is thinking that it wouldn’t be effective for 2012.  Trustee Chessler stated that he will defer to the Law Director for his opinion and advice but believes that they agreed to eliminate any confusion or possibility of that, that it was essential to meet during the year of 2011.  Mr. Hall stated that he gave Trustee Laubacher a copy of the statute and highlighted the last two (2) sentences of section 505.24 C.  Mr. Hall stated that he agreed with this meeting in 2011 so that there was absolutely no confusion and no concern.  If the Board takes action at this meeting that will establish 2012 and there will be no confusion.  Mr. Hall stated that the email that he sent out yesterday indicated that if the Board wanted to go back to the General Fund that it could be done in 2012.  That may be subject to challenge or interpretation but a strict read of the statute states that action for 2012 shall be done in 2011 which is probably a strict and clear and unequivocal expression of the Board’s intention.  Mr. Hall stated that if no action is taken at this meeting, then the apportionment will continue into 2012 because the Board’s resolution continues on.  If the Board should choose to pass the resolution that is on the table then it can be done by both Board members voting affirmatively.  This resolution would allow each Trustee and Fiscal Officer to make their own election whether to be paid solely out of the General Fund or from the various funds.  Mr. Hall stated that after discussion with Trustee Laubacher, Trustee Chessler and Trustee Capaldi the proposed resolution is probably the best option based upon some of the sentiments that have been expressed.

Trustee Laubacher inquired what Mr. Schlegel’s opinion is on this matter.  Mr. Schlegel stated that the General Fund is a struggling fund which is getting worse in 2012 and 2013.  Any money that can be saved in the General Fund is going to help.  As far as apportionment goes, Mr. Schlegel stated that if the Board adopts the proposed resolution he is going to elect to have his salary divided equally among the various funds.  Mr. Schlegel stated that he understands Trustee Chessler’s concerns and the motion on the table to make each individual Trustee and Fiscal Officer decide for them self is fair.

Trustee Laubacher inquired what type of written proof the Board has to put down if they decided to divide their salaries amongst the various funds.  Mr. Hall stated that the form that he provided the Board with is an honor certification system and most months are going to be consistent in percentages from Police, Fire, Road and the General Fund.  Every month the Board is dealing with some business within each department.  Most months are probably pretty equally divided but if the Board would get into a month or pay period where for whatever reasons they had to spend more time with the Road Department then more money can be taken out of the Road Fund and apportioned less from the other funds.  The Board is not required to keep a daily or hourly log.  It is based merely on the honor system of the Board’s estimation of time.  Trustee Laubacher stated that he wasn’t sure if the auditor’s were going to require each elected official to have a written statement in the minutes.  Mr. Hall stated that nothing is required to be in the minutes but each pay period the elected officials will have to tender that to Mr. Schlegel and he will have to make the calculation and keep that as part of his official records.  

Trustee Chessler stated that after looking more closely at the statute that provides for and authorizes the payment of compensation to Trustees only speaks of two methods; a per diem method and an annual salary either of which are to be paid in equal monthly payments.  Trustee Chessler stated that since he has been with the Township since 1990 the practice of the Township has been to make pay disbursements every other week.  Trustee Chessler inquired if anybody knows the history on how the Township has authorized twenty-six (26) payments a year when the statute only speaks to the authority for twelve (12).  Mr. Hall stated that as payroll is processed it was calculated on an annual basis and then broken down into payroll periods for the regular pay schedule.  Trustee Chessler stated that over the past twenty-one (21) years there was at least ten (10) audits where auditors have come in and had to of seen payments being made every other week.  The Township has never been challenged by the Auditor’s Office.  Mr. Schlegel stated that when he first took office this was one of the first things he looked at.  Mr. Schlegel stated that he has been audited five (5) times and out of those five (5) times the auditors have never cited the Township for this.  Mr. Hall suggested so long as the monthly amount is apportioned correctly over the twenty-six pay period it will still meet the auditor’s requirements.  The sentiment is to make sure that the elected officials are not paid more than if they were being paid on a per diem basis.  Mr. Hall stated that Trustee Chessler properly evaluated and suggested that each individual elected official within there own good conscience the ability to choose what method they want to be compensated.  This is in compliance with the statute and it is probably the most fair.  Mr. Hall suggested that the Board approve the resolution that is currently on the table and affirm at first meeting in January.  If the Board passes this resolution it will give all four (4) elected officials the option based upon the evaluation of the General Fund and the overall budget.  If the Board does not pass this resolution, the apportionment may be mandated on those who in good conscience are objecting to that.

Trustee Laubacher stated that the Board is trying to help the General Fund by trying to keep as much money in there as possible to be able to fix the parks and so forth.  Now, the Board will be taking all their salaries out of the General Fund and not out of the other various funds.  Mr. Schlegel stated that the salaries will still be taken out of the various funds with the exception of maybe Trustee Chessler.  Trustee Laubacher stated that is approximately $25,000.00 with benefits that will come out of the General Fund but he understands Trustee Chessler’s position with regard to this.  Trustee Laubacher stated that he is going to elect to have his salary taken from the various funds but he is going to write information down on the sheet to cover himself.  Mr. Hall stated that you can always add more detail but there just has to be a signed certification by each Trustee.    

Trustee Chessler stated that he recognizes the arguments that have been made and those are the arguments that originally carried the day to allow for the apportionment but there are other factors that have now come into play.  It won’t be too long into the new year that there will be another member of this Board.  To do nothing this year would impose salary apportionment on someone who is going to be taking office that may be opposed to it for the reasons stated previously.  The proposed resolution allows additional flexibility.  Trustee Chessler stated that in good conscience he does not know that he would sign off on payroll knowing that the apportionments were made and knowing that there is people out there that he agrees with that are saying that they voted for levies on the representation that the Township is going to spend those monies for the purposes that they approved and not have an additional drain of elected officials salaries.  This proposed resolution accommodates someone else’s views that come in that are not here now to speak on that.  The dollars and cents are significant and to say comparatively to take my $25,000.00 salary and drain the police levy fund, road levy fund and fire levy fund after the Board has heard that those funds are not that opulent either.  Arguments that can be made about draining one fund can be made about draining another.  It’s a problem all around.  Trustee Chessler stated that one option available would be to go to the voters and ask them for a levy to provide funds to the General Fund.  That would be the most honest and transparent thing that the Township could do.  In the course of these levies, having been approved and in affect right now, to do what the Board did some people feel as though the Board snuck one in on them.  The intent was never to do that.  The intent was purely good in taking a strain off of the General Fund.  Mr. Schlegel stated that he understands what Trustee Chessler is saying but when the other departments needed the General Fund because they didn’t have the money the Board gave it to them.  There is not a department out there that the General Fund did not give money to when it was needed.  Mr. Schlegel stated that when the other departments were in trouble the General Fund was there to help them and now it is kind of the other way around.  Trustee Chessler stated that he understands what Mr. Schlegel is saying but he just wants to make sure that if someone looks back on this that wasn’t here today that they can see very clearly that the Board looked at all angles of this.  Trustee Chessler stated that his reason for calling this meeting was to preserve the ability for everyone who is affected by this to make their own decision.

ROLL CALL: Mr. Laubacher, yes.  Mr. Chessler, yes.  

Adjournment:

With nothing further to come before the Board, Trustee Laubacher made a motion to adjourn the meeting at  12:33pm; Seconded by Trustee Chessler.

ROLL CALL: Mr. Laubacher, yes.  Mr. Chessler, yes.

Lee C. Laubacher, President

Joe Schlegel, Fiscal Officer