The stakes will be high at 10 a.m. Monday as the Crawford County Board of Elections will hold a public hearing on an Initiative Measure on Electric Fund Audit and Rebates filed by the Citizens for Galion group on July 6.
The hearing was called after Galion City Law Director Thomas Palmer filed a protest against the measure earlier this week.
Palmer said the proposed ordinance may not be submitted to voters under the general initiative provisions in state law due to the special provisions set forth in sections four and five of the Ohio Constitution that governs municipal operation of public utilities.
The proposed ordinance would require the city to have an audit completed on the electric fund from 2005 to 2012 to determine if citizens were overcharged on their electric bills and any monies due to them be refunded.
Palmer also said that is the first known initiative of its kind filed in Ohio against a city that is in fiscal emergency and that if the proposed ordinance is passed, it would constitute an unlawful delegation of legislative authority.
Board of Elections Deputy Director Kim Rudd says members will decide Monday whether to certify the issue for the ballot or to take it off the ballot.
“We wanted to give both sides a chance to present their case,” Rudd said.
The board recently certified the signatures for the measure.
Galion will be represented by Columbus attorney Donald McTigue, who was hired this week.
“We feel we have a strong case, but don’t want to speculate on a decision,” Palmer said on Friday.
Roberta Wade of Citizens for Galion, who presented the initative measure, was unavailable for comment about the public hearing.
At Tuesday’s Galion City Council meeting, Wade spoke out against the hiring of McTigue.
“It is unethical for council to pass an ordinance that will require the tax payers of Galion to pay for an attorney to fight against their own ballot initiative,” Wade said, adding council’s role was to represent the citizens, not the mayor and other city officials.
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Pugh is the Group Content Editor for the Galion Inquirer, Bellville Star, Morrow County Sentinel and Knox County Citizen. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @pughcivitas. Kimberly Gasuras also contributed to this article.