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Falls issues to be addressed by board

NEWTON FALLS — One of the members of the newly organized “Be The Change in the Falls” group plans to address the Trumbull County Board of Elections Tuesday regarding three referendum issues on smart meters, the law director’s contract and money spent for the purchase of a church for new village offices.

Resident Jim Luonuansuu said at a recent gathering at Liberty Park he plans to address concerns the group has over the referendum issues they had signed by residents to get on the election ballot for public vote.

Several people at the event held signs that read “Let Us Vote” and “Power to the People.” Luonuansuu said in one week, they obtained 356 signatures to get the smart meter issue on the ballot. The residents said this was a petition for the second meter ordinance passed by council.

“We gathered 356 signatures in seven days. This should show council that we intend to make sure that the people of Newton Falls get a chance to vote on this,” Luonuansuu said.

Village council originally passed a smart meter replacement ordinance in June, but updated it in July with more information on a timeline for replacement of the meters and a phone number to call for questions.

Village Manager David Lynch said with the newly passed ordinance on July 6, the old one is void so the referendum petition on the first meter ordinance is invalid.

Luonuansuu said that issue and a motion to make the law director position full-time are scheduled to be addressed at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the board of elections meeting.

Another petition objecting to the village spending $395,000 to purchase First Congregational Church for village offices is at the board of elections with signatures being verified.

The new petition for the meter replacement was submitted last week to Village Clerk Kathy King who will submit it to the board of elections to have signatures checked.

Luonuansuu said he wants to ask the board if the law director contract is an administrative or legislative matter because the position was changed and made full-time and not just a renewal of attorney Joseph Fritz’s contract.

“To do this council had to enact an ordinance to make it full time, which is legislative,” he said.

Luonuansuu said he and other residents also want to ask if board president Mark Alberini — who is related to Newton Falls councilman Tarry Alberini — should recuse himself from commenting or voting on issues related to the Newton Falls referendums as Tarry Alberini was among the council members who voted on the ordinances.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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