Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories on salaries of elected officials in the Olentangy area.
Elected officials in local government prepare for and attend a number of meetings a month, field questions and complaints from residents and ensure services their constituents want and need are functioning.
Aside from community gratitude, or the lack thereof, what do they get for their troubles?
Compensation for those elected to township and county and school boards is controlled by the state legislature. Cities establish their own policies.
Trustees are paid $1,714 per month, said Mark Gerber, Liberty fiscal officer. The fiscal officer is paid $2,348 per month.
These amounts are set by the Ohio Revised Code and are based on the township budget.
The code provided for a 3-percent increase in pay in 2006, 1.7-percent increase in 2007 and a 2.8-percent increase in 2008-2010.
Trustees designated as chair or vice chair do not get extra pay, Gerber said.
The officials do not have expense accounts, but they may request reimbursement for expenses such as printing documents to prepare for meetings. In 2009, no reimbursements were issued, Gerber said.
Elected officials can request township-issued credit cards and cell phones for township business use, but the current trustees and fiscal officer have not requested, nor been issued, either, Gerber said.
Liberty's elected officials receive the same benefit package as full-time township employees, including insurance to cover health, life, dental and vision. The monthly premium costs to the township for a trustee's family-coverage insurance are $913 for health, $10 for life, $96 for dental and $17 for vision. For the fiscal officer, the health premium is $650.
In addition the township pays the $5,000 deductible portion of the health coverage.
Elected officials pay the employee contribution of 10 percent of their wages to Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS). The township pays the employer contribution of 14 percent.
The only required time is for meetings, Gerber said, noting that officials spend a lot of time on many issues outside those meetings.
Trustee chair Curt Sybert said trustees average 12 to 15 hours each week on township business not including the bimonthly trustee meetings, which typically last three hours each.
"We meet with officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation, MidOhio Regional Planning Commission, Delaware County Regional Planning, Powell, Delaware and Delaware County," Sybert said in an e-mail.
"Trustees meet with and attend meetings with our attorneys regarding current litigation and other legal issues affecting the township.
At least one trustee tries to attend all court proceedings on behalf of the township. Litigation concerning Walmart forced one trustee to drive his personal vehicle to Cincinnati on several occasions.
Trustees use personal vehicles, personal cell phones and computers at their own expense. ... As a courtesy to the township, most trustees have never submitted personal expenses for reimbursement."
Orange Township fiscal officer Joel Spitzer said trustees make $20,568 annually. The fiscal officer makes $28,176 annually.
The amount of pay is determined by the size of the township's annual budget, and is regulated by the Ohio Legislature.
The elected officials "receive full health and life insurance at no cost," Spitzer said, but did not say what the township pays.
"All four (elected officials) partake in the insurance," Spitzer said in an e-mail.
The township pays the required employer's 14 percent to OPERS. The elected officials pay the required employee's 10 percent retirement contributions, he said.
The elected officials "do not have a dedicated expense account" but "are reimbursed for mileage outside of the township and things relating to township business or work," Spitzer said, noting that in 2009, trustee Nelson Katz was reimbursed $123, John Cassady got no reimbursement, Jim Agan was reimbursed $1,220 for expenses as the township representative to the Ohio Township Association and the Coalition of Large Ohio Urban Townships. Spitzer was reimbursed $5.
Township administrator Gail Messmer said the elected officials are offered township cell phones, but have declined, and generally are not offered a township-issued laptop.
"We do have a desktop available here for use by the trustees," she said, noting that the fiscal officer has a laptop for his use.
The trustees are not issued a township credit card, Messmer said.
"The question of time dedicated to trustee activities varies with the liaison assignments and projects. The meetings can vary in length, and the number of special meetings can add time to the job as well," Messmer said.
Katz said in an e-mail, "The commitment to public service certainly does extend well beyond the bi-monthly meetings."
He said trustee tasks performed outside meetings include "talking to constituents reviewing and signing requests for purchase orders, checks, agreements and contracts reviewing and discussing the day-to-day operations (with department heads) and topics for meetings ... consulting with our township attorney regarding the status, progress and next steps involved in getting easements for building our trails or executing the proper steps on a property donation for a park ... and meeting regularly with our construction manager to discuss current and upcoming park and trail projects, getting the bid books put together, ... reviewing the bids and reviewing the progress of the projects as they get under way and move toward completion."
"One must have a real commitment to public service before running for such an office," Katz said. "There are personal sacrifices involved. But, if it's where you're supposed to be, then it can be very rewarding as well."