Reynoldsburg News

Truro Township trustees

Candidates divided over need for operating levy

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Truro Township residents will chose among three candidates for two open seats on the township board of trustees Nov. 5.

Challenger and former township firefighter Mike Shirey is running against incumbents Dennis Nicodemus and Barb Strussion.

The township's request for a five-year, 0.75-mill operating levy on the November ballot is a dividing line for the candidates; Nicodemus and Strussion support it and Shirey opposes it.

If it is approved, the operating levy would generate about $348,000 per year. It would cost homeowners an additional $26.25 per year in taxes for each $100,000 in property value.

Nicodemus, 55, is currently president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 683.

He was first appointed to serve as a township trustee in December 2002.

"I enjoy serving the public and knowing that our emergency services help residents when they need it," he said. "We have roads and a cemetery to take care of as well."

He and his wife, Elena, have two adult children, although Nicodemus said, "I consider I have four children" because he counts his daughter-in-law and his daughter's fiance as his children also.

He is a graduate of Reynoldsburg High School and Eastland Vocational School and completed a Columbus Joint Apprenticeship for the electrical industry.

Nicodemus was inducted into the Eastland/Fairfield Career Center Hall of Fame in 2008 for life accomplishments; was co-chairman for the United Way of Central Ohio for the 2012-13 campaign and currently serves on the Franklin County Chemical Emergency Preparedness Advisory Council.

He said he hopes that voters approve the Truro Township operating levy.

"Due to the state legislature taking local government funds from us, we are left without a choice but to ask voters to pass a levy," he said. "It would be irresponsible not to ask for an operating levy at this time. We have cemetery, road services and other expenses that must be met.

"We are asking for the absolute bare minimum that we can to pay the operating expenses," he said.

Nicodemus said if he is re-elected, his main goal will be to make sure the township operates as efficiently as possible, especially in terms of the fire and emergency services.

"I want to make sure that the roads are properly maintained and unsightly homes in the township are dealt with in a swift and fair manner," he said.

Shirey, 54, recently retired after 34 years as a firefighter and fire/arson investigator with Truro Township.

He and his wife, Donna, have three adult children.

"I feel it's time for new leadership -- someone to actively monitor the financial stability of the township and budget for the future," Shirey said. "With having two levies in two years, that clearly states that something is not working and we need better financial accountability and control."

A 1977 graduate of Reynoldsburg High School, Shirey went on to graduate from the Ohio Fire Academy in 1980 as a fire/arson investigator.

"I am also an active Civil War re-enactor with the 19th Ohio Independent Light Artillery," he said.

Shirey said this is "not the right time" for a township levy request.

"I feel that other measures should be taken before asking voters for more money," he said. "Before spending funds, it should be sure that it is a need/necessity for the township or employees and that all costs have been researched. I also feel that they should monitor the books more closely to control wasteful spending."

Shirey said his main goals in office, if he is elected, will be to "control spending, budget properly and maintain fiscal responsibility."

Strussion, 70, has been a Truro Township trustee for 16 years, with her first term beginning Jan. 1, 1998.

"I am running for re-election to continue serving Truro Township," she said. "Township government is the smallest form of government, but this enables you to be readily available to your residents and their concerns.

"I'm running to continue the work of improving our fire and EMS departments and completing projects the board has been working on," she said.

She and her husband, Ron, have two grown children.

Strussion earned a teaching certification from Ohio University and has attended township educational seminars.

She is a member of the Livingston House Society and the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society.

"A major decrease in funding by the state" left the township's general fund "greatly reduced," Strussion said.

"The general fund has lost more than $200,000 in state funding over the past two years," she said. "The fund is mandated to pay state auditor, treasurer's fees, and attorney fees and can be used for cemetery upkeep and road maintenance.

"The passage of this small operating levy would ensure services remain the same," she said.

Strussion said her goals, if she is re-elected, "remain constant."

"To provide the best protection for our residents and their property our resources can provide; to continue to give training for our personnel on all levels to keep them safe and up to date on new methods and procedures and to keep all our vehicles and equipment in excellent condition for everyone's safety," she said.

She said she also wants to continue shared services, seek new ways for the township to stay fiscally sound and continue the preservation and restoration of Silent Home Cemetery and township roads.

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