Champion officials reviewing $500K in ARP funds | News, Sports, Jobs
CHAMPION — Township officials are seeking input from department heads on how to use the remaining $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funds the township received.
Trustee Chairman Doug Emerine said at a meeting earlier this week that the police chief, fire chief and road supervisor are being asked to submit what needs they have that may qualify for ARP funds.
Emerine said the police department may want to look at training, protective vests, thermal imaging cameras and Narcan.
Resident Debbie Christ suggested items such as police cruisers that have a longer life should be considered and given priority for the funds. Resident Jason Kish asked if any funds can be used for the 7.5 acres for soccer fields and making improvements there for public use.
Emerine said the soccer fields are being relocated from the former Central Elementary School property to the township property behind the schools.
Trustee Rex Fee said if township land is used for new soccer fields, there will need to be a park levy for funds to maintain the fields in the future.
“We have had people ask about pickleball and a splash pad but we do not have the revenue for this,” Emerine said.
In other business, several residents at the meeting asked trustees to have Fiscal Officer Courtney Hatt resign from the position since she has been on leave of absence for an extended period of time due to a visual disabilty.
Christ said she was concerned over bills that were not paid previously when Hatt was in office and not on leave as well as late financial transactions and meeting minutes.
“That is her responsibility. Enough is enough. She is an elected official. She should do the job and if she can’t do the job she was elected to do, let Tom (Blazek) take over and get caught up,” Christ said.
She did credit Blazek, who is serving as deputy fiscal officer while Hatt is off through at least Aug. 31, for all he has done to address the finances and get the township’s bills in order.
Emerine said trustees cannot force Hatt to leave because she’s an elected official. He said trustees were informed by her that everything was current and up to date before she went on sick leave.
Emerine said a recent audit only contained minor findings.
“Things are moving forward but very, very slowly. We are doing what we can to fix it. Tom is learning the job and doing a good job. There is a huge learning curve for any fiscal officer,” Emerine said.
In a letter to trustees, Hatt asked that special accommodations be made when she returns to work to help her because of her health issues.
She said she is reviewing her options regarding the fiscal officer position.
“As additional changes to my health or personal circumstances arise, I reserve the right to discuss changing, terminating or adding accommodations,” Hatt wrote in the letter.
Christ said she is circulating a petition to get enough signatures to proceed with getting Hatt removed.
Trustee Rex Fee said it is very difficult to remove an elected official. Hatt ran unopposed for the fiscal officer position.
In other business, trustees:
• Met in executive session on the contract and compensation for the next police chief. Emerine said they are reviewing applicants and may have a special meeting when a selection has been made. Candidates are Dan Wasko, Larry Skaggs, Kevin Miller and Mike Stabile. Wasko has been serving as the township’s acting police chief since the retirement of Chief Jeff White on June 30;
• Met with architect Tim Sexton of Sexton Associates Architects of Cortland, which will design a storage building for the road department. He said construction drawings will be prepared for trustees to review. Officials are looking into using ARP funds for the project;
• Approved seeking Ohio Public Works Commission funds for 2023 road resurfacing. Roads planned are Pierce Road at $143,627 and Emerson Avenue at $46,546;
• Announced an appraisal will be done on the former Central Elementary School property off state Route 45.