Miami Twp. trustees adopt limited home rule

Some residents object to plan leaders say improves efficiency.

Trustees voted unanimously this week — despite some residents’ concerns — to adopt limited home rule. It is set to take effect 30 days from the vote unless within that time frame a valid petition is presented to have the issue placed on the ballot, according to the Ohio Revised Code, which townships operate under.

Limited home rule allows some townships an option from the statutory form of government that Ohio townships have traditionally used. The change would allow Miami Twp. to “exercise all powers of local self-government” other than those in conflict with the general laws, according to the ORC.

The move would give the trustees broader delegation powers, permitting Twp. Administrator Greg Rogers greater authority to address day-to-day issues that now are put on hold until trustees can meet to approve them, said Miami Twp. Board of Trustees President Andrew Papanek.

“What I am really passionate about is giving Mr. Rogers more authority to do his job … on a daily basis,” Papanek said. “But that’s not automatic. Trustees still have discretion.

“I haven’t talked to anyone in township government that hasn’t said limited home rule is the way to go,” he added.

More densely populated suburban townships — such as Washington Twp. in Montgomery County and Liberty Twp. in Butler County — have adopted limited home rule, as it gives them greater flexibility, Rogers said in his recommendation to trustees.

The township has about 29,000 residents, is home to Austin Landing and the Dayton Mall, and has seen about $130 million in residential and commercial development since 2010, when the Interstate 75 interchange at Austin Boulevard opened.

Its population and commercial base of about 500 businesses “places the pressures of an urban environment on our infrastructure,” Rogers stated.

Yet some residents said they feared adopting limited home rule would hurt property values, invite larger government and lead to greater debt for the township.

Board Vice President Robert Matthews said the township is not seeking to expand government but attempting to keep costs down. And while limited home rule townships can assume greater bonding and borrowing authority, Twp. Finance Director Harry Steger said “it’s my job to make sure we have the money to cover that debt.”

Other residents said they supported the change, noting the move could help the township address nuisance issues through stricter guidelines allowed by limited home rule. Others said they, too, were concerned about debt levels, but have faith that trustees will keep them in check.

The trustees’ vote will take effect by mid-February unless before then they are presented with a valid petition seeking to have voters decide the issue, according to the ORC.

The petition must be signed by equivalent at least 10 percent of the number of township residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election, the ORC states. That’s 773 signatures, according to voter turnout figures on the board of elections website.