Batavia Trustees wind up business

December 21st, 2006    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

The Batavia Township Board of Trustees cleared up a few end-of-the-year items at the Dec. 19 meeting, including discussing the $3.5 million budget for 2007 and the formal organization of the board.

Trustee Deborah Clepper will remain chair and Trustee Lee Cornett vice chair, while Trustees Archie Wilson and Clepper will serve on the fire department committee and Cornett will move to the cemetery committee.

The trustees also announced plans to hold only one meeting in January, which will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 9. The trustees also announced a Sept. 22 Clermont Philharmonic concert for 2007 and discussed an expansion of King’s Way Fellowship, a church in Batavia, that will be building a new youth center. The church has grown to more than 800 members and plans to hand out 1,500 food baskets to the needy this Christmas season.

After the nuts and bolts, however, the trustees discussed a few big issues, including a new contract with the sheriff's department and some stormwater drainage and mowing issues.

"The trustees will be interviewing a deputy one day next week, but that date has not been determined," said Batavia Township administrator Rex Parsons. "Assuming he is approved, he'll start in early January. The sheriff has proposed a new three-year contract. It hasn't been signed. Some of the details are still being worked out, but the trustees are considering it."

The new deputy will begin his tenure with the township riding along with the current deputy to learn the lay of the land. After that, the deputy will begin patrols on his own that will allow the township to receive coverage every day. There is currently no decision made as to the possibility of hiring a third deputy.

"Basically, what you will get with that is coverage every day in Batavia Township from a deputy," said Parsons.

A more troubling issue for the trustees revolved around a new tractor they had purchased for mowing in the township. According to Parsons, the deal involving modifications to the tractor went sour, leaving the trustees in a precarious position.

"The tractor was bought in state bid and brought to a gentleman in Van Wert," said Parsons. "He was supposed to make some modifications. He was to put two different mowers with one mounting system, so we would have a dual use with one tractor. Currently, we have two tractors each with one use, one for bush hogging and the other for flail mowing where we put it up on an arm to cut tree branches along the road."

The new tractor, said Parsons, would give the township more usability and safety. However, the contractor hired to make the necessary modifications failed to follow through on his promise.

"This new tractor has an enclosed cab to protect the driver from the elements and thrown objects," said Parsons. "The tractor was delivered but he failed to make the modifications. The tractor has been removed now, and we are looking at other vendors to make the modifications."

Ken Embry, Batavia Township Service Director, told the trustees that the old bid needed to be thrown out in favor of finding a new contractor that could properly modify the tractor for township use.

"It was an unconceived circumstance," said Embry. "The references were good, and now we're kind of in limbo. I've secured some other estimates."

The new bids place modifying and creating the necessary equipment for the tractor at more than $50,000, a substantial increase over the bid accepted by the trustees some months ago for the current contractor. The total bill then for the tractor and modifications would come to nearly $90,000 for a piece of equipment that would replace a 1984 tractor currently used by the township.

"The original quote we did was $33,000, and I believe that the references we received from them was good at the time," said Embry. "This quote isn't for exactly the same material, but will be used for the same scenario."

Wilson expressed concern about the purchase, specifically concerning the cost versus usage.

"Is it really worth it?" asked Wilson. "We looked at this before, but is it worth that much money? What's the life of the tractor and equipment? Is it possible we could get a tree trimming service to come and buzz that tree? How many days a year to we go out and lift that up to trim the trees?"

Embry, however, said that the tractor currently used is both running out of steam and over utilized.

"We use it on a routine basis," said Embry. "Quite often, actually, at all of our intersections. We have to maintain all of our roads. This will allow us to do that. We constantly do it."

The old tractor, said Embry, is beginning to cost far more to maintain than it should, and was also heavily affected by weather. The new system would be usable more often and in more circumstances. The trustees agreed to go with the new bid and cancel the old purchase order, but later rescinded their acceptance of the new bid until it could be determined that they were not legally liable for work done by the previous contractor.

"We need to get something in writing on how do proceed," said Clepper. "Call legal counsel and have them prepare something. This is a scary situation. We need to know where we stand legally."

The trustees also learned of some unapproved work completed at a local development that is expected to cause some problems with stormwater runoff.

"The homeowner's association at Batavia Lakes hired someone to make some modifications to the lake," said Parsons. "In the process, he added on to existing tiles that drained under the roads. Basically, the work done either needs to be done to code or removed. There is a section of tile we've already taken over maintenance of, and this could possibly flood under the roads."

The matter, however, will be turned over the to county, whom Wilson said is responsible for overseeing issues of stormwater drainage.

"This is the county's jurisdiction," said Wilson. "Any time you fight water in this county, the county has jurisdiction. They may not want to take the responsibility, but all storm water is under their jurisdiction. A drainage easement is a dedicated easement the county approves. It's not our job to maintain those easements, they aren't deeded to us. Who requires the drainage easement? The county. That's their jurisdiction."
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