PDT Staff Writer
The Lawrence-Scioto County Solid Waste Management District (LSSWMD) met in regular session on Thursday. On the agenda for the board to decide where the LSSWMD would be housed in the future.
A public service announcement informing that the meeting would take place at noon in the Ohio Room at Ohio University Southern. However, the meeting was delayed half an hour due to a catered luncheon for the LSSWMD Board of Directors.
Tom Reiser, Chairman of the LSSWMD, cited the reasons for the housing concerns of the LSSWMD office as financial and organizational after the meeting. Yet, at the conclusion of what was the final meeting of the year, members of the board were presented with leather travel bags that contained several items including t-shirts, a cup, a pen and various other items as Christmas presents.
The LSSWMD Board of Directors consists of Scioto County Commissioners, Tom Reiser, Mike Crabtree and Skip Riffe and Lawrence County Commissioners Bill Pratt, Les Boggs and Freddie Hayes. Also included in the luncheon were LSSWMD District Coordinator Dan Palmer, Community Outreach Coordinator/Education Specialist with LSSWMD Stephanie Helms, Assistant Scioto County Prosecuting Attorney Danielle Parker and Executive Director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization D.R. Gossett.
Once the luncheon was finished, the meeting was called to order at about 12:30 p.m. with a number of items on the agenda.
“Everybody knows that one of the things we are talking about is the future of the district. When I first became commissioner 12 years ago, we (LSSWMD) had ongoing problems with the EPA and the district was fined a quarter of a million dollars because of noncompliance issues,” Reiser, chairman of the LSSWMD said.
He said after that, “We (LSSWMD) entered into a contract with the CAO of Lawrence County to provide technical support and office space. What we are faced with now, is a business decision. We all know what the issues are.”
Gossett said the CAO has enjoyed being able to fill in the gaps and manage the district.
“In the discussion today I want to make sure we’ve done everything what we (CAO) should do. I want to make sure you (LSSWMD board of directors) understand what all we’ve done and obviously the relationship I have with the Lawrence County Commissioners is of highest importance to me,” Gossett said. “As this process transitions, a lot of times when you make decisions to make a change, sometimes you need rationalizations. I have a bigger responsibility and value the relationship with these guys (Lawrence County Commissioners). I’m here to hear the ideas and concerns. As a vendor of the district we appreciate the district as a collective group.”
At that point a motion was made for the board to enter into executive session. The purpose of the session was for the board to discuss the district’s contract with CAO and what avenues the board wants to take.
The board approved the motion and to allow Parker to remain in the room while Gossett, Palmer, Helms and the media were asked to leave the room. During an executive session, a public board is allowed to discuss issues, but cannot vote or come to a decision.
During the executive session Gossett and Palmer were called into the room by the board for questioning by the board.
Once the meeting was called back into session Reiser stated, “We are not going to take any action today. With the discussions we had, I think you’re (LSSWMD employees) are going to be pleased with what actions we are considering taking. We need to do some fact checking and consider some things that came up in the discussion, that we had not considered before. I don’t think anyone in the room has to worry about looking for a job.”
After the meeting Reiser said the board, “Is looking into continuing that (contract with Lawrence CAO) or some other arrangement, or to rework the contract with with CAO. Those are some of our concerns. Some of it had to do with financial things. The other commissioners and I had to share with each other.”
He said the financial issues partly had to do with the budget of the district.
“It has to do partly with the organization,” Reiser said. “I think it’s more organizational than it is financial.”
Since the board meets quarterly, Thursday’s meeting was considered the last meeting of the year.
Reiser said the organizational concerns about the district were nothing negative.
“When I say organizational it’s methods of operation,” Reiser said.
He said the contract with CAO is a continuing contract that was signed in 2008.
“The contract was signed in 2008. It’s not been renewed, it’s just been continued every year. We want to review the contract and what CAO is responsible for and we’re (LSSWMD) responsible for and so forth. That’s the reason we brought along our attorney to advise us as to what we can do,” Reiser said.
On Sept. 12, 2012 Parker, at the request of Reiser, issued a legal opinion, dated on the subject of Solid Waste District Employees.
In the opinion Parker stated, “You have requested a legal opinion from this office regarding the mechanism for transferring employment of three employees of the joint solid waste district from the Lawrence County CAO to a county employee.
“The facts as I (Parker) understand them are that the joint solid waste district presently contracts with the Lawrence County CAO to maintain the office of the joint solid waste district. The joint solid waste district has three employees that are presently employed through the contract by the Lawrence County CAO.
“It is my further understanding that the joint solid waste district will likely terminate the contract with the Lawrence County CAO in accordance with contractual termination prevision thereby terminating the employment of the three employees.
“Section 343.01 (B) of the Ohio Revised Code allows for the board of directors to appoint and fix compensation of employees of the joint district. It is further stated that employees of the district shall be considered county employees for the purposes of Chapter 124 of the Revised Code and other provisions of state law applicable to employees.
“Therefore, I am of the opinion that what is necessary is for the board of directors by a majority vote, appoint the three employees as employees of the joint district and fix their compensation.”
The other actions taken by the board included setting meeting dates for next year and reelecting Reiser as board chairman for 2013.
The next meeting of the LSSWMD is scheduled until February, Reiser gave no indication of a special meeting or when the matter would be presented again to the board.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.