Jerome considers township hall rental changes

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Jerome Township officials are already looking to implement possible safety measures in 2021.
During Tuesday’s trustees meeting, the board discussed potential changes to the township hall rental policies.
In light of what Trustee Megan Sloat described as an “enormous number of cases” in the area, officials considered halting all rentals.
However, Director of Departments Douglas Stewart, who joined the meeting virtually, said that may not be an option until 2021.
He said he recently spoke with Union County Prosecutor Thayne Gray, who said the rental agreement is essentially a contract between the township and the renter.
As long as the renter does not violate Gov. Mike DeWine’s health orders, Stewart said “we can’t breach the contract.”
Earlier this year, the township imposed additional rules renters must follow in order to abide by the state-wide health orders.
All food in the township hall must be catered rather than brought by the renter.
Additionally, the capacity has been reduced to 50 people.
Fiscal Officer Robert Caldwell said he is usually at the township hall on weekends when it is being rented and most renters have had less than 50 people. He said they generally have tables and chairs spaced out as well, to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“I guess at this point, we’re just trying to follow the health department mandates,” Sloat said.
Trustee Chairman Joe Craft added that the refund policy has been more flexible than it is typically.
If a renter chooses to cancel, Craft said the township has provided a full refund regardless of how close the cancellation is to the rental date.
Moving forward, Stewart said Gray is reviewing the rental agreement for next year.
The 2021 contract could have updated language that provides the township with an option to cancel rentals in the case of a pandemic.
Although that isn’t possible until January, Craft said the trustees could elect to honor the current agreements and refuse to sign any more.
He said it is a difficult decision because he feels the township hall is likely a safer setting than a gathering within someone’s household, but the rentals could expose staff members who work in the building to COVID-19.
The board agreed to further discuss rentals at a future meeting when Trustee C.J. Lovejoy is present, as he was absent Tuesday.
In other business:
– Trustees scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 to discuss the 2021 budget, specifically expenditures related to the zoning and roads departments.
Craft said the regular trustees meeting, typically scheduled at 7 p.m., will occur immediately following the budget meeting.
– Stewart updated the board regarding a change to the township’s CARES Act expenditures.
He said the vinyl flooring that officials initially planned to purchase will not be available before the funds need to be encumbered on Friday. He said an alternate flooring will cost an additional $1,000 on top of the original $1,650 cost.
Stewart said officials also purchased additional reusable gowns for the EMS squad.
He said the health department mandates EMS wear full PPE on all runs, except for car crashes, fires or water rescues. The reusable gowns can be washed at least 100 times, Stewart said, and will be used in responses during the pandemic.
– Sloat encouraged the township to apply for the Ohio Township Safety Sign Grant Program through the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The grant is available to townships with above average crash rates that have not received funding previously.
The program provides up to $50,000 to request new safety signage or upgrade current signage.
Zoning Inspector Eric Snowden said the grant “could be very useful to us.” He said he will ask Roads Division Supervisor Breht Fillinger to identify any intersections that could benefit from new signs before beginning an application.



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