Residents consider dissolving village

By Dan Wells - bio | email

AMELIA, OH (FOX19) -- The plan to enact a new tax has some residents in Amelia saying they would rather dissolve the village than pay the new tax.

Amelia village council has talked about a one percent earnings tax for months, but on Monday night, council members received more than 450 signatures to dissolve the area on Nov. 5.

While township officials are going over the increase, opponents of the tax have been collecting signatures to ask voters to dissolve Amelia altogether.

The issue could go to voters on Nov. 4.

Amelia's annual budget is just short of $3 million, but village officials say they need more money to keep up with services demands as state funding drops.

A proposed earnings tax, if its voted in at one percent, could raise about $560,000 a year for the area.

"This is not a situation where we're in dire straights," said village administrator Mark Menz. "This is more about a long term solution for us. Essentially its a shift from levy taxation to an earned income tax."

But Amelia Residents for Fiscal Responsibility, a group which opposes the tax, says that's too high.

"I served at clerk treasurer for 10 years for this village and served on council for four," said resident Debbie Schwey. "I've lived here for 35 years and I'm sorry to say we're not in a good position to put an earned income tax on the people."

The coalition of more than 20 residents also believes dissolving the village as a whole would save taxpayers money.

So what happens if the village of 4,000 disappears? The area would be absorbed by Batavia and Pierce townships.

Village officials warn that move, if it's on the ballot in November, may be a lot more costly for residents than they imagine.

"What we understand is effective November 5,  the village would stop services all together," said Menz.

Menz says in addition to paying property taxes to a township, homeowners would also have to honor the village's contractual debts.

The coalition disagrees.

"Contracts are negotiable, so we can negotiate those contracts and anything else that needs to be negotiated," said Schwey.

So when will council vote on the tax?

"I would anticipate the next meeting or the one after that," said Mayor Leroy Ellington. "I will be more than happy to make public when its voted on."

Backers of the proposal to dissolve Amelia say they've collected more than 450 signatures so far. They only need 316 valid signatures to make the ballot.

At this point the signatures needed to be reviewed, so this story is far from over. FOX19 will continue to provide the latest information.