I have repeatedly tried to work out issues without bringing them to the public’s attention. But that does not always work and, in many cases, I feel things will not change for the better without the public having knowledge of what is really going on and why it is going on!
I recently brought to the Buckeye Lake mayor’s attention that Buckeye Lake Council Clerk Valerie Hans is still requiring that public record requests be put in writing (which is against ORC 149.43) and that she had been instructed to do so. Mayor Clay Carroll responded by saying that he “directed everyone to ask that it be put into writing so we don’t make mistakes.” He continued saying, “These requests cost the village a great deal of money in the labor it takes to gather the information and I am eager to reduce that cost any way possible.”
What I can’t seem to make him understand is that ASKING and REQUIRING are two different things and no one ever ASKED me. It was apparent that it was REQUIRED or I don’t get the records. My request was for invoices from the Buckeye Lake Prosecutor Mark Gardner. I reiterated that the public records course is FREE and it will remind these public officials that these records are supposed to be organized so that they are readily available to the public! Thanks to Mayor Carroll and Clerk Hans, village officials may find themselves in a Mandamus action in court over this public records issue and that really could cost a “great deal of money” to the village! Transparency of public records, etc. is vital because it reduces government corruption!
After I wrote about speed limits in the village possibly being posted illegally, I was asked by a couple of people how to get reimbursed for tickets they didn’t deserve. Mayor Carroll and I had a short conversation via email. It went like this:
Me: Hopefully, the village is going to refund money to people who got tickets in the 20 mph zone. Is there a form that they need to fill out for a reimbursement or do they just go/call the office?
Mayor: If their ticket is less than 20 MPH they can notify the office.
Me: By Buckeye Lake’s own code book, the speed limit on side streets is 25 not 20. The signs are illegal. Are you not going to fix this?
Mayor: Still doing some research but the year-end budget stuff is consuming a lot of time. There is a process by which those speed limits could be made 20 MPH but they have been posted that way so long I need to see if the necessary procedures were followed or not.
I have always said you can usually tell where the focus of a small village lies just by looking at how much their revenue is from traffic citations.
Mayor’s Court revenue in three local villages for September and October of this year was as follows:
• Hebron – $3847.50 (Sept.); $3091.50 (Oct.)
• Kirkersville – $2649.00 (Sept.); $1317.50 (Oct.)
• Buckeye Lake – $8861.30(Sept.); $8306.52(Oct.)
As you can see, Buckeye Lake’s revenue is more than double that of Hebron (whose population and land area are very similar although, according to City-data.com(2013), Hebron’s population has increased by 16% while the population of BL has gone down 11.3% over the past few years).
The Buckeye Lake community is hurting and we need people to come here and support our current businesses and build MORE businesses! We need people to spend money here WILLINGLY. Earlier this year, Mayor Carroll thought he could increase revenue for the village by having the street department mow overgrown properties but charge the property owner the often much higher fees that some outside contractors charge. That scheme was thwarted when the village solicitor told him he could only charge what the village actually pays for the work.
Building the reputation of the former Village of New Rome, or the current Village of Brice, does not help any of us, particularly businesses that need more customers. When you have police officers such as Jim Bartoe logging in almost 10 hours on one shift without ever doing anything but writing tickets, that’s not deterring crime….that is crime.