Liberty Township staffers will stay put -- at least for now -- thanks to an agreement struck with Ohio Equities LLC, which owns the building in which the township offices currently reside.
At a meeting of the board of trustees held Monday, Dec. 3, Township Administrator Dave Anderson said the real-estate company agreed to extend the township's lease through the end of February. By that time, residents will have cast their votes on an emergency fire levy headed for the Feb. 6 ballot and the township will know where it stands financially.
"They agreed to give us a three-month extension until we get to the February election, so we know what our situation will be, and they graciously agreed to give us no penalties," Anderson said.
At a prior meeting, Anderson said the company would levy a 25 percent penalty on the township's monthly rent after its lease expires this month on the office space it rents at 10104 Brewster Lane.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, some residents said the 2,000-square-foot office has too much empty space and suggested the township rent a smaller office to save money.
Anderson admitted the office is rarely full after some recent staffing cutbacks, but said the unit affords ample space to file and store residential and commercial documents, and added its proximity to Fire Station 322 on Sawmill Road means the two buildings can share a fiber-optic network, resulting in savings.
At its Nov. 19 meeting, the board of trustees tabled a resolution to renew the lease to further consider other options. The new agreement buys board members some time, Trustee Curt Sybert said.
"My feeling is that we need to take these 90 days and then figure things out," Sybert said. "Assuming everything goes according to plan, I don't think there's need to further discuss the Brewster site, but if something happens and the levy doesn't pass again, we just may have to make some use of the fire station."
The trustees also voted 3-0 to approve the purchase of a wide format scanner/printer for the office for $13,250.
Anderson said the device would allow the township to create digital copies of large commercial documents to add them to the township's database of records.
He said between 60 percent and 70 percent of township residential and commercial records already have been digitized, but many documents are too large to scan with the township's current equipment.
Zoning Inspector Kathy Foust said purchasing the device would be cheaper and more efficient than hiring a third party to complete the work.
Anderson added digital copies are easier for residents and township staff to access and review than paper records.
Also at this week's meeting, trustees voted 2-1 to end the township's association with the Ohio Department of Transportation's Scenic Byway program, which raises awareness about routes with historical and natural significance.
Specifically, the township staff won't go through the application process to maintain state Route 315's scenic byway status along the Olentangy River.
Anderson said township staff is better off dedicating time to other needs.
"With competing resources, and the time and effort required to submit the plans, we don't see a return on investment of anything for the community, financially or otherwise," he said.
"It's nice to have a point of pride, but I don't think anyone is going to treat the road any less or any different with the change."
Sybert voted no.