This past week, I've had to do research on problems I wish I didn't have...grubs in my lawn and requests for a special meeting of the Board of County Commissioners (BCC).
The special meeting, first...
I received an email from the Clerk of the Board that she'd been instructed to schedule a special meeting on Tuesday, May 2nd. Unfortunately, it took some work to try and figure out WHO gave the instructions and for what purpose...
After some research, I found that at least one commissioner wanted to pass the required resolutions for a merger between our Mental Health Board and the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) agency. And that's when the trouble started...
You see, in 1989, the counties were mandated by state government to form either an ADAS board or a combined MH/ADAS board. Some counties did, some didn't. Lucas County chose to form separate boards (still looking for the reasoning on that decision).
Then, in 2003, counties which had formed separate boards were given a window during which they could consider merging the two bodies. Lucas County did discuss this at a Dec. 16th, 2003, BCC meeting - at the request of Comm. Tina Skeldon Wozniak. The decision was NOT to merge (2-1 vote) - based upon comments made by both boards at the meeting.
Along comes 2005 and a different makeup of the BCC and now merger is back on the table. The ADAS and MH boards were either asked, encouraged or told (depending upon whose version you listen to) to merge their boards. They formed a study group to look at the benefits of merger and then, in February 2006, issued a final report that said merger was a good idea.
Now, there are many unanswered questions about this report - but those can wait...this post is about the special meeting...
While the study group was meeting, efforts were also under way in Columbus to create another "window" in which separate boards could merge. Since this is primarily a law to give permissive authority to counties, it received very little, if any, opposition - the general philosophy in Columbus being that they usually support permissive authority at local levels in order to let individuals decide what's best within their jurisdiction. The amendment to the law was added to the budget reconciliation bill recently signed into law by the governor.
The Study Group decided that the merger should be official by July 1, 2006. There are several rationales for the merger, but the timing is based upon having a merged entity capable of promoting itself and its benefits in time for the MH levy in 2007 (as they state in their report).
In order to have these agencies meet their timeframe, the vote on the merger was tentatively scheduled for May 9th at the 9:30 a.m. BCC meeting
ah, but there's the rub...
It seems that the new law requires a 3-step process:
1) Commissioners must pass a resolution declaring their intent to merge.
2) Commissioners must pass a resolution requiring a report on a potential merger to be completed by a date certain.
3) Commissioners, after having time to review the report, may pass a resolution to merge the two entities.
So if you're going to have a vote on the merger on May 9th (step 3), you need to have votes on steps 1 & 2 first...hence the need to schedule a special meeting on election day.
Except that terrible Maggie Thurber, who asks all these questions that no one wants asked...happen to inquire as to WHEN the new law goes into effect. You see, since no one was really able to explain WHY we were having a special meeting to order a report that had already been completed, I learned all about the three-step process and the fact that the law requiring the three-step process had just been passed.
Now, in Ohio, most laws go into effect 90 days after signature by governor, unless another effective date is included within the law itself. I could find no special designation of an effective date for the merger, so I had my assistant check with the prosecutor's office to verify the actual effect date. Turns out, it's June 30, 2006.
Which means that we cancelled the special meeting on Election Day and we won't have the merger vote on the agenda May 9th...and we can't do anything until AFTER June 30th.
And for making sure that the BCC didn't act without the statutory authority to do so, I've been the "bad" commissioner this week.
Kind of makes me look forward to dealing with the grubs in my lawn...