Chuck Osborne, a frequent critic of North Canton, has spoken out against the Water Board since that legislation was introduced.

NORTH CANTON  A former city councilman is suing the city over the existence of its Water Board.

Charles "Chuck" Osborne filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Stark County Common Pleas Court in Canton, arguing the Water Board is operating illegally because its existence isn't authorized by city charter.

Osborne argues Ohio law requires "charter authorization for a body to assess and collect water rents and charges."

North Canton created the Water Board in October. It was established as part of legislation that dropped an annexation requirement for properties outside of the city looking to purchase city water. According to that legislation, the Water Board and chair of the water, sewer and rubbish committee can negotiate agreements, reduce or waive the costs to place lines and tap-in fees, determine the applicability of inside or outside water rates and determine if annexation is required.

The board has met four times.

Osborne, a frequent critic of North Canton operations, has spoken out against the Water Board since that legislation was introduced. In February, Osborne's lawyer Warner Mendenhall filed a taxpayer demand letter asking the Water Board cease operation.

Law Director Tim Fox responded to that letter March 19, stating in 2011, Council passed legislation (ordinance 20-11) that appears to establish a Water Board to "resolve disputes as to charges or concerns of the use of the city's water works system."

He also points to a section of city charter that allows City Council to establish "other departments, boards, commissions, officers and employees as it may deem necessary and determine the organization and duties of each officer and employee ..."

Fox did not return calls immediately Tuesday.

 

The suit alleges the creation of the Water Board compared to other departments, commissions and boards is "anomalous." It argues other boards are either expressly created by legislation or created by legislation that specifies the membership of the board.  The suit argues the water board is created by two pieces of legislation, the 2011 ordinance, which calls for a board with specific membership but not expressly the Water Board, and the October ordinance that names the Water Board but doesn't specify its members.

Osborne asks the court to declare both ordinances violate either Ohio Law or city charter and the Water Board's continued operation is illegal and must stop. He also asks for attorneys fees.

This is not the first time Osborne has sued the city. He previously took court action against in the city in 2006, 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to a search of Common Pleas Court records.

Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or

jessica.holbrook@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @jholbrookREP.