Plain Township voters will decide Nov. 5 between two former township trustees to serve as fiscal officer.
Bud Zappitelli, 49, is the current fiscal officer and a trustee from 2006-12.
He is being challenged by Don Shoemaker, 70, who was a Plain Township trustee from 1994-2010.
Zappitelli was appointed in April 2012 to the fiscal officer position after John Brandt, who had been re-elected in November 2011, declined to take office. Zappitelli had to resign as a trustee to be considered for the position.
The township fiscal officer serves a four-year elected term, but the winner of the Nov. 5 election must return to the ballot in 2015. The original term won by Brandt expires in 2016; in order to complete the term, Zappitelli was required by the Ohio Revised Code to run for the position in the next election that included a race for township offices.
Zappitelli has bachelor's degrees in business administration, finance and financial planning from Franklin University and is studying for his master's degree in business administration from Franklin University. He owns his own business, Zappitelli Financial.
Shoemaker has a bachelor's degree in industrial arts from Ohio State University and owns his own business, Don Shoemaker Electric.
Both candidates were asked if the township can be fiscally responsible while providing necessary services to residents.
Zappitelli said the township is "in solid financial shape."
While serving as a trustee and a fiscal officer, he said, he has "challenged the status quo and allowed for thinking outside the box in all of the township financial endeavors."
He said the township works closely with the city of New Albany, the New Albany-Plain Local School District, Franklin County and Metro Parks "in collaborating as we provide services to our community."
He said the Plain Township Fire Department "continues to work under our levy from 2008" and has fulfilled the promise of not going back to voters for five years.
"We manage our expenses tightly in Plain Township, as we understand the burden placed on the families of our township with rising taxes," Zappitelli said.
Shoemaker said the township can be and needs to be fiscally responsible. He said no one is happy with rising taxes.
He said he is concerned that the number of township staff members has increased. He said he would like to see the trustees take more responsibility, and while he was on the board of trustees, the township built a fire station and the Plain Township Aquatic Center and started the Rocky Fork Metro Park project with fewer employees.
"The problem with government is that if the government has enough money, it will put enough staff on and they can stretch 20 hours out to 40," Shoemaker said. "I think the township has too much staff and the trustees need to take more responsibility."
Both candidates were asked if they have any concerns about fire services the township may need to provide as the city of New Albany expands its business campuses in Franklin and Licking counties.
"I have no concerns about services the township currently offers and the potential effects of the growth in the business campuses on those services provided," Zappitelli said. "The township is able to meet our commitments to our residents as we always have."
Zappitelli said New Albany is working to manage growth and is confident in New Albany City Council and New Albany City Administrator Joseph Stefanov.
Shoemaker said many of the businesses in the Licking County portion of New Albany are served by other fire departments.
He said his concern is when tax abatements are offered to entice businesses to an area. The abatements act as credits that allow a business to pay only a portion of its taxes. He said that practice affects township fire departments, which earn money through property taxes.
Shoemaker said he does not believe taxes should be abated if fire departments are affected.
"What we have to do when businesses expand is we need to make sure the fire department is compensated," he said.
He said local businesses receiving abatements have purchased equipment for the fire department in the past, but he said a one-time purchase does not pay for daily staffing and operations of the fire department.