Familiar faces in new roles in Buckeye Lake
BUCKEYE LAKE – Some familiar faces took on new responsibilities with the Buckeye Lake Village Council Monday night, the first regular meeting of the year. New Mayor Clay Carroll – formerly a council member – took the reins, while council members unanimously electedcouncil member Jeryne Peterson as council president, and council member Barry Herron as president pro tempore. He’ll act as council president in Peterson’s absence.
“I have some big shoes to fill here,” said Peterson as she moved to the seat at the head of council chamber, which former council president Charlene Hayden once filled.
Former council member Peg Wells returned to council following an eight-year hiatus. There is still one council position to fill and council members should have at least three applicants, as of Tuesday, to consider, including resident Margaret Hanson, who introduced herself to council Monday night. Applicants have until Jan. 22 to apply for the open council position and the appointment is likely to be made during the Jan. 27 council meeting.
“I’m getting my feet on the ground,” said Carroll in his first meeting as mayor. However, he said since the first of the year he appointed resident Mary Muryn to the Buckeye Lake Parks and Recreation Committee and he spoke with resident John Sproat about the upcoming annual Buckeye Lake Fest. “He could use a lot of help,” said Carroll.
“He could really use a lot of help,” said Herron.
Carroll said he also met with John Stock of Stock Development, who represents LEADS, which proposes to build up to 30 single-family homes in the village for households earning up to 60 percent of area median income. Last year, council rejected the proposal over concerns that the homes LEADS would build in the open lots where derelict homes were removed would eventually become derelict themselves. “Fifteen or 20 years from now we may have what we just tore down,” said Peterson previously. However, as LEADS provides more information about its proposal, some council members may be willing to reconsider it.
In other council news:
• Wells said the Licking County Board of Elections’ decision to move Buckeye Lake’s polling place from Our Lady of Mount Carmel church to the Union Township Complex several miles away for the November election caused a “pretty significant” drop in voter turnout – approximately 500 voters from the presidential election, she said. Voter turnout was down approximately 35% compared to recent non-presidential elections. Wells pointed out that combining the village’s two precincts already saved the Election Board money by cutting the number of poll workers.
Wells suggested council approve a resolution asking the Board of Elections to restore the polling place within the village “or, at the very least Lakewood.” She offered to represent council at a February 11 Board of Elections meeting to present the resolution. Council supported Wells’ suggestion and Peterson referred it to the Service Committee for discussion at their January 20 meeting.
• Wells said the village could recover tens of thousands of dollars that it used to pay Union Township before the village officially seceded from the township shortly before the November election. At that time, both the village and township had separate fire levies on the ballot and due to a technicality from many years ago the village and township were not politically separate entities, meaning that village and township voters would have to pay for both levies if the village and township were not officially independent of each other. Village and township officials were concerned that both levies would fail.
The village seceded from the township and both levies were approved. Wells said there was a lot of discussion about the fire levies but no mention of the revenue Buckeye Lake Village was generating when the entities were politically joined. She said the secession changed the village’s inside millage. “We’re allowed to collect 10 mills without going to the ballot,” said Wells.
She said the village pays 2.2 mills to Licking County, 4.6 mills to Lakewood Schools, 2.4 mills to the county’s Tax District 74 for a total of 9.2 mills now that the village is no longer paying Union Township 0.8 mills. “We are now below our 10-mills inside millage,” explained Wells. “We could’ve had that money that Union Township had in their budget. We’re talking $30,000 to $35,000 that we’ve missed out on, folks. But, we can get it back after next October.”
Wells said taxpayers will see a difference between their 2014 and 2013 tax duplicate. The 1.38 percent of their property tax bill that went to Union Township in 2013 will stay in their pocket this year.
Carroll said Tuesday that council did discuss the change in taxes last year and determined the amount the village could recover is roughly $26,000. Council members also knew that it would take at least a year to recover it. “We knew it wouldn’t happen overnight,” he said.
Wells said on Tuesday that she confirmed with the Licking County Chief Deputy Auditor Brad Cottrell that the 0.8 mill would have amounted to $37,282 collected in 2014 if the village had amended its budget form by Oct. 1. Village council members unanimously adopted a resolution on August 26 to secede from Union Township. Licking County Commissioners approved the village’s request on August 27.
• Resident Brenda Hileman said she talked to a PNC Bank official about what it would take for the company to reverse its decision to close the Buckeye Lake PNC branch in February. She said she was told that it would take a lot of calls from Buckeye Lake residents to the bank’s corporate office complaining about the closure.
“I’m hoping people will pull together and help keep our bank here,” said Hileman. “It takes many people to call.” She said those who would like for the Buckeye Lake PNC branch to remain open should call (269) 544-3905.