Archived Story

Board OKs attorney to get vehicles back to agency

Published 9:50am Friday, December 7, 2012

The Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management Board has authorized its attorney to get back ownership of the district’s vehicles from the agency that once managed the district.

Without those four cars, two trailers and a litter van, district director Dan Palmer said his staff cannot perform their duties.

“The phone calls (reporting dumping complaints) are coming in,” Palmer said. “The public is wondering why. We can’t do our job.”

At its Thursday quarterly board meeting, the board, made up of Lawrence and Scioto county commissioners, unanimously approved a motion authorizing the board’s attorney Danielle Parker “to pursue acquisition of those vehicles by

whatever legal means necessary.”

Parker is also an assistant prosecuting attorney with Scioto County.

On Nov. 12 the solid waste district broke ties with the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization that had managed the district since the late 1990s becoming then an independent agency. During those years the CAO administered the district using $385,000 from the $12 a year parcel fee levied on property owners in Lawrence and Scioto. That fee brings in on average $640,000 a year.

From that $385,000 the CAO paid the salaries of the district’s five employees and purchased supplies and assets, including the vehicles. The CAO also took approximately $18,000 to cover administrative fees.

While the CAO was managing the district, its staff was CAO employees. After the split Scioto County took over those duties, making district employees county workers with county and state benefits that they did not have before.

On Nov. 20, the CAO board declined to transfer the titles to the vehicles to the solid waste district. Ten days later the CAO dropped insurance coverage on the cars.

Right now all vehicles are in the possession of the district but cannot be used since without titles the district can’t get insurance coverage.

“I am very disappointed with the CAO,” Lawrence County Commissioner and SWM board chair Freddie Hayes said at the meeting. “The taxpayers pay for services. We are not giving them the services.”

“(The CAO) used solid waste district funds to pay for them,” Lawrence County Commissioner Les Boggs said. “The right thing to do is to (transfer) them to the solid waste district where they rightfully belong.”

Parker told the board that she had talked with CAO director D.R. Gossett about the cars.

“In their eyes the CAO had bought the cars and basically assigned them to the solid waste district,” Parker said. “He is pretty stuck on that.”

Gossett has called the cars unrestricted assets.

“Those vehicles were bought by the CAO, not by the county,” Gossett said in an earlier interview. “When we designated (employees) for solid waste, they were CAO employees and the same thing for the assets. They were CAO assets. They paid us for the services to administer the solid waste. All of those dollars were unrestricted dollars.

“It is a fair statement we basically bought those with the money the county had given us. But the county gave us that money for performance with no strings attached. They were happy with the performance, including taking the risk of buying assets and employing individuals.”

Also in contention is $157,000 that is remaining from the original $385,000 transferred from the parcel to the CAO to run the district.

According to Palmer, the CAO is not releasing that money because there are still bills to be paid. Parker was also authorized to recover those funds.

Until ownership of the vehicles is resolved, the board told Palmer either to rent cars for the staff or pay mileage to them for use of their personal cars for district business.

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  • bigkahuna

    Looks like someone at CAO needs some jail time.

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  • Ironton123

    Mom of 4, you sound like maybe you are being funded by the CAO. The fact is these vehicles were purchased with lawrence county taxpayer money for Solid Waste to work the County of Lawrence. Wherever did you come to the conclusion these vehicles would be taken to Scioto County. The fact is these vehicles will remain in Lawrence County. Dan Palmer and his staff have done a wonderful job for Lawrence County and will continue to do so as soon as the CAO agrees to give back Solid Waste Property bought with Solid Waste funds not CAO funds. All property used by Solid Waste have been purchased with funds earmarked for Solid Waste. Whatever would CAO use these vehicles for? Poor Richard you seem very knowledgable of your facts. Mom of 4 you don’t have a clue. Thank goodness two of our elected commissioners have researched their facts and are looking out for the Lawrence County Taxpayers. I agree with Freddie Hayes I also am very disappointed with the CAO. Les Boggs thank you for informing the public as to exactly where the funds came from to purchase these vehicles the Solid Waste are using to work Lawrence County to keep our county clean. Dan Palmer thank you for standing up to the CAO and for what you thank is right as far as taking care of Lawrence County, and the Lawrence County Solid Waste Funds. Taxpayers voted to put Mr. Boggs and Mr. Hayes in office and we will do so again. This county doesn’t need any more YES men. That is what is wrong with the county now. Elected officals wanting to popular with their friends or people in authority instead of caring what is right. I agree with Poor Richard this does appear to be a lawsuit in the making.

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  • Poor Richard

    The vehicles were purchased with taxpayer funds through property taxes earmarked specifically for Solid Waste – NOT FOR THE CAOs PERSONAL USE. The vehicles legally belong to Solid Waste and NOT the CAO!! This is exactly the type of situation that I have commented on so many times about the CAO. They use county funds – taxpayer money – handed over by the county commissioners to fund their empire, pay their friends and relatives and basically suck the county dry. The state CAOs are set up to manage funds for certain projects received from the feds, beyond that they should have NO power in this county and receive NO county funds. If county officials continue to funnel money through the CAO organization, a FOIA request needs to be sent to them from each and every citizen in this county asking specifics on how they are spending county funds and lets start with all the properties they own and lease. This is a perfect example of how the CAO has used taxpayer money/county funds for their own agenda – to purchase vehicles for their own use. A lawsuit in the making!

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  • Mom-of-4

    This is making a bad situation even worse.
    I don’t blame the CAO for not just handing over vehicles to Scioto county but I’m amazed that our commissioners do blame them. I don’t see the CAO keeping them if they don’t rightfully think that they are theirs. It was Waste Mgmt that severed ties and left the CAO. That’s like telling someone that works and drives a Pepsi truck that if they leave and go to Coke to take the truck with them. It’s not their truck to take! This was money and revenue that came to Lawrence County. Taxes were paid to our county, not Scioto. Waste mgmt is taking money from this county and giving it to Scioto. Why in the world would you just hand over vehicles over to another county? If they want them then Scioto can buy them from the CAO. This is all business and no business does things just to be nice. Money is being lost to a neighboring county and now you want us to just give you these vehicles because “it’s the right thing to do”..?? Commissioners, wake up! We put you in office, we can take you out.

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