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Published: Thursday, 8/5/2004

Swancreek Township to expand committee

DELTA, Ohio - A committee appointed to consider a new form of government for Swancreek Township in Fulton County will be expanded at the request of residents who objected to the group's makeup.

Two additional members will be selected, Trustee Jim Meyer said. Trustees have not yet appointed the new members, and no date has been set for the committee's first meeting.

The committee will look into the pros and cons of limited home-rule government, an option for townships that have populations of more than 5,000. Home rule provides for additional responsibilities on the part of the township and additional rights for voters, according to Swancreek Trustee Randal Ruge.

Under home rule, for instance, the township could appoint its own law director, and electors could place referendum issues on the ballot. The township currently operates strictly under state law.

In response to complaints that mostly east-end residents serve on boards and committees, trustees agreed to appoint residents from the western portion of the township to the committee.

During the trustees' meeting Monday night, several residents not only objected to the makeup of the committee, but they protested forming the study group, contending that there is no need to look into a new form of government.

Phil Wiland, a former Swancreek Township trustee, described home rule as an abomination. He contended that residents would pay higher taxes to cover costs for police, fire, and legal services. Some of those services are provided by the county now.

In response to criticism about home rule, Mr. Ruge emphasized that the committee has just been formed to look into it. Current committee members are the three trustees and residents Eric Farster, Kim Baker, and Chuck Stoncheck. Mr. Ruge said yesterday that residents Gary Brehm and Harold Rhoads will be asked to serve on the committee.

After the committee makes a recommendation, trustees will hold a public hearing and then decide whether to put the issue on the ballot.

Asked why trustees are looking into home rule, Mr. Ruge explained that he became interested in home rule as a result of a public waterline project that he said was forced on him.

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