West Side News

Policy set to care for indigents who die in township

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Prairie Township has put a policy in place to take care of the indigent people who die in the township.

Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said at the Oct. 17 trustees' meeting that according to the Ohio Revised Code, townships are to provide for the burial or cremation of a body found in that jurisdiction. The township currently had no policy in place on the matter, he said.

"We only have this problem occasionally," Hatmaker said. "It has come up enough to need a resolution to outline the process."

The policy trustees approved requires the burial or cremation of a body only if that person lived in Prairie Township and/or the body was found in Prairie Township and that there is reason to believe that the deceased was indigent.

A person is deemed indigent if it can be documented that his or her income was below the federal poverty threshold at the time of death or if someone executes an affidavit stating that, to their knowledge, the deceased was indigent.

Once the criteria have been met, the deceased must be buried in one of the cemeteries owned by the township where a stone with the person's name and age, if known, will be placed. The funeral home will submit an itemized bill to the township, Hatmaker said.

In other business at the Oct. 15 meeting, residents told the trustees they continue to be concerned with the increases in their water bills.

Trustees have been trying to get Steve Renner from Franklin County to address the subject at a meeting, but to no avail.

Trustee Steve Kennedy said the real issue is that there are approximately 1.2 million people in Franklin County and only 40,000 that are affected by huge water bills.

"The Franklin County commissioners represent the majority of the people," he said. "That isn't enough people to get them serious about the problem."

Kennedy said there are a few opportunities available to home- rule townships that the board is looking into to resolve the issue.

"We can start our own water and sewer district," he said. "We are doing the research to see if something like that is a feasibility."

Trustees revised and again approved the West Broad Street streetscape project, which will coincide with a safety project. Hatmaker said the resolution authorizes the Ohio Department of Transportation to proceed with a project first initiated three years ago.

"This is identical legislation from 2009," he said. "The plan needed updating and the resolution re-passed."

Hatmaker said residents can expect aesthetic and safety improvements to begin along the West Broad Street corridor starting next summer.

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