Olentangy Valley News

Orange Township tweaks investments to earn more

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Orange Township is adjusting its investment policy to get some more bang for its buck.

Trustees Rob Quigley, Lisa Knapp and Debbie Taranto approved a resolution Monday, Oct. 15, to put $6 million that is now equally divided between six permanent road-improvement funds into U.S. government agency bonds.

Such bonds can have staggered terms and currently earn at least 0.5 percent interest, which is about five times more than what current township investments make.

Brian Carter of Fifth Third Bank Securities, who has spoken in the past to township officials, would help manage those funds through Fifth Third.

In 2011, Orange Township earned about $7,000 in interest on investments in a general interest-bearing account that paid out at 0.1 percent annually.

Trustees also approved a resolution dealing with adjusting investments. Under this arrangement, the township will put $10 million into a new Ohio program called Star Ohio Plus, through which 0.25 percent interest can be earned by investing with different financial institutions.

Taranto and Knapp voted in favor of the resolution, while Quigley recused himself because he works for US Bank.

The Star Plus program is part of the Star Ohio program and allows for money to remain liquid for township needs, rather than tied up as an investment in such things as the government agency bonds.

Another $1 million would remain in the Star Ohio program, earning 0.1 percent interest.

Township Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer has said the current investment policy, approved by previous trustees, was too restrictive. He said during this week's meeting that it took a number of months this year to work on a better investment plan.

"This just helps gain a little more interest," Spitzer said of the investment adjustments.

Also at this week's meeting:

* Trustees went into a closed session to discipline a full-time firefighter, but the hearing later ended for undisclosed reasons.

Fire Chief Tom Stewart previously said the firefighter, whom he did not name, had violated departmental rules while off duty.

Stewart has not said what rules the firefighter violated.

He said he will hold a hearing himself Friday, Oct. 19, in his office and make a disciplinary recommendation to trustees next month.

Trustees could act on the matter in November. Discipline could range up to termination, the chief has said.

* Trustees approved a resolution authorizing an annual program for the removal of dead ash trees that are in the right of way on major roads, such as Orange Road.

Quigley and Taranto voted in favor of the resolution, while Knapp abstained. During a lengthy discussion, Knapp said she favored a policy to remove any dead trees in the right of way that could pose a safety concern.

She brought up the matter of dead trees earlier this year after an East Orange Road resident contacted her about dead ash trees along the front of his property.

Quigley said the emerald ash borer infestation has decimated ash trees in the township, making their removal a priority. Any other dead trees could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, he said. Taranto agreed.

In response to previous discussions about dead trees, Parks and Maintenance Director Beth Hugh has had township workers begin marking dead ash trees along major roads. West Orange and Big Walnut roads have the most significant problems and would be the top priority, she said.

Still to be decided is how much money will be needed to pay a tree company to remove the trees and where that money will come from. No township funds were set aside this year for tree removal.

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