BUCKEYE LAKE – Voters in Buckeye Lake Village will see at least three tax levies on the November ballot unless plans change.
Monday night, Village Council members, by two 6-1 votes, took the first step to put the renewal of the village’s five year, five-mill fire/EMS levy and a new five year, five-mill operating levy on the November ballot.
Wednesday night, Lakewood School Board members unanimously took the first step to put the renewal of a five year emergency levy on the same ballot. It brings in $2,353,259 a year; the millage will be set by the county auditor’s office.
Council member Peggy Wells opposed both resolutions. “I think the timing is bad…we have three opportunities to pass the fire levy (November 2017, May 2018 and November 2018)…Putting this (fire levy renewal) with another brand-new levy is compromising both of them,” she explained.
Wells supports the fire levy and notes that voter support has been strong and consistent for the levy. Thus it could wait until next year without endangering its approval.
Wells also questioned why the new levy was not called a street levy where the need and voter support is the strongest. Council Clerk Valerie Hans said the village had been told that they had to call their small levy for street lights an operating levy. Hans said the name could be changed for the next two resolutions if they discover that it can be called a street levy.
Wells provided documentation shortly after the meeting that Ohio Revised Code 5785.19 specifically allows levies “for the general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, and repair of streets, roads, and bridges in municipal corporations, counties, or townships.” However, it does not allow levies specifically for street lights.
Even though changing name to a street levy is legal, it might not happen if Mayor Clay Carroll gets his way. While he doesn’t have a vote on the matter, he prefers the spending flexibility that an operating levy provides. Wells said he would still get some flexibility because currently general revenue funds, which can be spent for any municipal purpose, are being used to fund street repairs. If a street levy is approved, the general revenue funds currently being spent on streets would be returned to the general fund.
“I would like to see this at three mills instead of five mills,” Wells added. “I think it will be more successful if we rename it. I just want it to be successful. Strategy is very important. I think it will be a real challenge to get it passed.”
Council member Arletta Ruton said she totally disagrees with Wells. “You don’t know what you can accomplish without trying,” she said. She stopped the discussion by “calling the question.”
In other business, council members unanimously approved placing the cost to cut grass or clean up the exterior property on the tax duplicate for seven properties. They are:
• 10989 Hebron Rd. – $61.59;
• 158 Wood St. – $66.59;
• 310 Seymour Ave. – $96.59’
• 117 Seymour Ave. – $60.00;
• 217 Renner St. – $121.59
• 109 Stewart Ave. – $66.59 ;and
• 180 Elliott Ave. – $66.59
During public comments, North Bank resident Doug Stewart asked about code enforcement along the towpath sidewalk. He said trees, scrubs and bushes from private property were encroaching on the sidewalk. “Please, please look at code enforcement,” he said. “We need to look at it close. The job is a necessity for the community, It’s just not on the dam.”
He related what happened in his hometown of Whitehall when code enforcement was ignored. Whitehall is still trying to recover from the damage both to the community and its reputation, Stewart explained.
During council member comments, Wells mentioned concerns from Barry Wright and Bonnie Mansfield that some newer fire department employees aren’t familiar with village streets. Though the fire chief wasn’t at the meeting, she suggested that new employees be trained on village maps and streets.
In her comments, Ruton reacted angrily to Wells, claiming she was attacking village employees. “Mr. Wright needs to take it up with mayor. Mayor can you look into it and report back?”
Carroll said “yes.”