THE TRUE STORY ABOUT THE SEWER AND WATER
REQUEST AND THE BETHEL TOWNSHIP
TRUSTEES' COMMITMENT TO IT.
Bethel Township Trustees formally requested that the Miami County Commissioners proceed with centralized sewer and water agreement(s) on behalf of the township. They also formally committed, in writing, to help the commissioners move forward. The township trustees first denied their involvement; they have since attempted to minimize their role in the process and have attempted to divert attention away from themselves by urging residents to contact the county sanitary engineer. We elected the township trustees and they, not the county sanitary engineer, the township administrator, or the township zoning and planning agent, should be required to answer questions regarding what they, as township trustees, are doing, supposedly, on our behalf. Since, after four public meetings the trustees have refused to answer questions regarding this multi-million dollar plan they should retract their request and commitment to the Miami County Commissioners.
An email, a memo, and a formal letter are below:
On April 24, 2009, the Bethel Township Trustees formally requested that the Miami County Commissioners move forward to bring centralized water and sewer to the township.
In June, when I publicly asked about the proposed sewer and water agreement, Trustee Hirt said that the trustees didn't know anything about it because it was something the County Commissioners were handling.
During the June 30, 2009 public meeting, Trustee Wray, in a round-about-way, acknowledged the existence of the trustees' letter of commitment to the Miami County Commissioners, but said that it was merely "symbolic". Based on the attached documents, clearly the letter of commitment that was signed by all three trustees was not a symbolic gesture.
During the July 2, 2009 public meeting, residents were once again told that the sewer and water proposal is not within the domain of the township trustees and that all inquiries should go to the County Commissioners as the matter is solely in their hands. Public records prove otherwise.
Any attempt to by the trustees to deflect attention away from the fact that they have the power to stop centralized sewer and water from coming into the township is disingenuous. To halt action on the proposed agreement(s) for centralized sewer and water, at least until the trustees disclose how much it will cost property owners, the trustees should formally withdraw their letter of commitment. Failure to retract the formal commitment permits the Miami County Commissioners to proceed toward finalizing an agreement for centralized sewer and water service for Bethel Township - even though there is no demonstrated need that could possibly justify the cost to property owners.
As of July 2, 2009, the Bethel Township Trustees continued to refuse to fully disclose the details of the proposed sewer and water agreement(s), nor have they disclosed the COST TO PROPERTY OWNERS IN BETHEL TOWNSHIP, HOW MUCH MIAMI COUNTY WILL PROFIT FROM THE DEAL, OR HOW MUCH CLARK COUNTY WILL PROFIT FROM THE DEAL.
For sure, without the REQUEST for, and the trustees' commitment to construction of centralized sewer and water from the township, the County Commissioners have no authority in the matter.
Note: it important to remember that there is a distinction between centralized sewer and water throughout the township and the localized sewer and water service that is needed in Brandt.
February 25, 2009 -- An email from Pat Turnbull, the County Sanitary Engineer, to Mike Gebhart. Trustee van Haaren, the liaison between the township and the county, also received a copy of the memo. In summary, the email says:
- The county commissioners NEED a FORMAL COMMITMENT from the township.
- The county needs FORMAL reassurance that the trustees will stand behind the County.
- The REQUESTED LETTER OF COMMITMENT IS NECESSARY prior to the County moving forward.
Also, note that Pat Turnbull from the County Sanitary Engineering Department and Mike Gebhart, a township employee, "need to work together to help "DRAFT" the formal letter of commitment.
March 27, 2009 -- a copy of a memo from Pat Turnbull to the Miami County Commissioners. In summary, he said:
Here is a list of things that the County Commission NEEDS from the trustees before the County will move forward with the sewer/water agreement with Clark County:
- Completion of the revised land use plan. [Note: the County has gone on record as recognizing that the current plan is incompatible with widespread development of the township).
- A FORMAL WRITTEN REQUEST from the Bethel Township Trustees for water and sewer. [Note: IF the EPA was demanding centralized sewer and water for the township there would be no need for the trustees to make a request; the matter would be out of their hands. Also, in the absence of an established need, the Ohio EPA has no authority to mandate centralized sewer and water for Bethel Township.
- IF the trustees decide to make the REQUEST, they will need to justify their REQUEST to the public.
- And finally, the trustees will need to support assessments (the amounts added to our tax bills) and engage in some form of cost-sharing with the county. [I presume that the cost-sharing may include some of the revenue from the 3.8 levy.]
In summary, the Bethel Township Trustees had a choice: to make the request, or to not make the request. the choice was completely in their hands. To this the trustees will say: "We had to do it or the EPA would have ordered it." Not true. The Ohio EPA is not going to mandate that centralized sewer and water be installed all the way up to 571 when no need has been established. (full text of the memo) April 24, 2009 -- A formal letter to the Honorable Commissioners of Miami County, signed by all three of the Bethel Township Trustees, wherein they expressed their CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO BRING SEWER SERVICE to Brandt and the surrounding area in the township. [That surrounding area is Exhibit A, the map that is attached to the draft sewer agreement.] (see full text of the letter)
In summary, regardless of what has been said, the April 24 letter was not a symbolic gesture. The County required the Trustees to REQUEST that the Commissioners take action because the County Commissioners have no authority to engage in a contractual agreement for sewer and water for Bethel Township without a formal request to do so. And further, if the Ohio EPA or the Health District was lawfully demanding that Bethel Township have centralized sewer and water, no "request" for a letter of support by the Township would have been needed. This expensive centralized sewer and water project is a WANT, not a documented NEED.
If you oppose having centralized sewer and water foisted on you against your will, you may want to write a letter to each of the Bethel Township Trustees demanding that they retract their April 24, 2009 letter to the Miami County Commissioners, or post your comments on their web page. In addition, you may want to send a copy of your letter to each of the Miami County Commissioners: Bud O'Brien, Ron Widener, and Jack Evans.
If the township or county sends formal documentation refuting any of the aforementioned, the documentation will be noted here.