Can Buckeye Lake afford to go dark?
BUCKEYE LAKE - Buckeye Lake resident Charlotte Basnett told the Buckeye Lake Village Council Monday nigh that she believes many residents didn't realize they were voting to shut off the village streetlights when they voted down a one-mill operating levy in May, 82 to 91 against.
"They were very upset" about the wording on the ballot, said Basnett.
The levy was intended to fund the continuing operation of Buckeye Lake Village's streetlights. Council members voted two weeks ago to turn off the lights on June 30 due to the levy's failure.
The May ballot said the levy was, "An additional tax for the benefit of the Village of Buckeye Lake, Licking and Fairfield counties, Ohio, for the purpose of current expenses at a rate not exceeding one mill for each one dollar of evaluation..."
Gloria Carson, Licking County Board of Elections deputy director, said the ballot language originally stated the levy was for streetlights, but the Ohio Attorney General's Office told the Licking County Board of Elections to remove that language. According to a statement from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, "Ballot language for levies for current expenses or current operating expenses cannot list a specific limitation for the money, such as, '...for the purpose of current expenses for streetlights.'"
Council member Drew Bourne said the village needs to shut off the street lights June 30 because if the village waits until after the November election and voters again reject the levy, the village couldn't afford American Electric Power's fee to disconnect the village's lights. He added that money could not be removed from the general fund to disconnect the lights. Bourne said he thought Ohio AEP would permit a homeowner to connect to a light near his or her house at the homeowner's expense. He said AEP must shut off the village's 201 streetlights individually.
"We're not doing this to hurt people," said council member Donna Thompson.
In other council news:
• Council President Charlene Hayden said there is a problem with drivers speeding through Cranberry Bay and specifically Cranberry Way. "I'm seriously concerned," she said, that there would be a collision or a pedestrian hit. She said the village police would maintain a stronger presence in the area to stop speeders.
• Director of Development Valerie Hans said she's still seeking easements from some property owners to allow construction workers on their property when the village constructs a public water distribution system beginning this summer. She said the project would not be delayed if the village doesn't get all the easements, but having the all of them would make it easier. Hans asked council members for help locating property owners who haven't granted easements.