Archived Story

Firm contracts a must with public monies

Published 12:13am Sunday, December 9, 2012

Some divorces end with the relationship so fractured that the two parties can no longer live with each other, yet they still find a way to split gracefully for the benefit of their children or out of respect for the years of marriage.

That is an approach we would like to see taken by the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the Lawrence Scioto Solid Waste Management District.

In this case, the “children” are the citizens of Lawrence and Scioto counties who are counting on both organizations to focus on bettering the community instead of backroom name-calling, bickering and grudges.

For reasons that have still never been fully explained to the public, the solid waste district split from the CAO, the organization that essentially created the agency and operated it very effectively for more than a decade. But a dispute over who owns the assets – namely several vehicles and the equipment used by the solid waste district – has left that agency crippled and somewhat unfairly given a black eye to the CAO for maintaining that all the assets purchased over the years are owned by that organization.

No one wins in a prolonged legal battle except for the attorneys who get to cash big checks that would likely include more taxpayer money.

The CAO is correct when it says that it was essentially fulfilling a contract to operate the solid waste district and how it spent the money it was paid was up to it. Legally, the CAO is likely correct that the assets are their property.

The solid waste district also has a valid point in its assertion that these assets were bought with tax dollars, the CAO wouldn’t have been able to purchase them otherwise and that everything should remain property of the citizens of Lawrence County.

Although we have not seen the original agreement, the language is reportedly very vague and strengthens the CAO’s position. But solid waste district officials are correct as well in that they need the equipment to operate and continue the important work that it does.

The biggest problem may be that the county did not have a stronger contract with the CAO that spelled out these contingencies. This should certainly be remedied in the future and county leaders need to be very detailed with all contracts using taxpayer money.

The best solution would be for the CAO to quickly determine the assets that were purchased over the years for solid waste and sell them back to that agency at their current market value.

The CAO wins because it gets some value from the assets and takes the proverbial high road in the dispute. The solid waste district wins because it has everything it needs to quickly resume the fight against illegal dumping and garbage disposal.

And, perhaps most importantly, the taxpayers win because the money generated from years of a property tax levy wasn’t just spent on year-to-year operations, but instead on building the foundation for an agency that can continue to make the county a cleaner place to live.

The marriage may be over but the shared past merits consideration for the future.


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  • mickakers

    I find food for thought in Poor Richard’s comment, in particular, “The CAO has FAR OUTLIVED its usefulness to this county and the legislature should eliminate that agency permanently, the county can manage the state/federal funds and programs on its own – a way to ensure funds are being used appropriately.” Something to think about. Good imput, Poor Richard.

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  • Poor Richard

    Whoa right there ….the CAO DID NOT CREATE THE SOLID WASTE OFFICE. The Ohio EPA mandated the Solid Waste office and several of the existing county commissioners (that were in bed with the CAO) at the time chose the CAO to run/manage the Solid Waste office. The state has a policy that a county can levy citizens to pay for a Solid Waste office, so it is funded with taxpayer money.

    If citizens of this county had actually read the Solid Waste Management Plan as I did, they would have probably also asked alot of questions such as who the heck were the people on the board. Instead of placing mayors from area villages or citizens from around the county , it was a bunch of people that I have found on just nearly every ‘board’ in this county but don’t know any of them –whether they actually exist or not would be interesting to find out. I had alot of issues with that ‘plan’. For local officials, it was all about funding the CAO, not cleaning up the county, but despite that original mission, Dan Palmer made it work, not the CAO.

    When local officials recently set up the transportation system in the county, I could smell another rat, given the CAO was involved again and probably receives thousands for that ‘plan’ along with ‘free’ vehicles for their own use and who else to use??

    It is surprising that other citizens in the county haven’t noticed that when local officials want something, they come up with a way to ‘fund’ it through the CAO and everytime they get that organization to ‘manage’ something they skim thousands off the top for ‘admin fees’.

    The CAO has FAR OUTLIVED its usefulness to this county and the legislature should eliminate that agency permanently, the county can manage the state/federal funds and programs on its own – a way to help ensure funds are being used appropriately.


    And next time, IT, the county commissioners go to bed with the CAO, maybe you should be a bit more forthcoming with information about the contract language and where citizens need to send their FOIA request to receive a copy.

    I don’t know about the rest of the citizens in this county but I am furious about this situation. Incompetence is an understatement!

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