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UNIOPOLIS — Miffed by a narrow election defeat that was swayed by what some councilors are calling misinformation, several councilors railed against Uniopolis Mayor Bill Rolston Monday.
A vote requesting the mayor’s resignation was called, but the measure ultimately failed.
However, it did not stop the harsh words councilors had for Rolston during the meeting.
Due to financial limitations created by a dwindling funds handed down to the community each year from the state through Local Government Funds, councilors proposed a move to unincorporate the village, or surrender the corporation to the township, last February.
An information campaign went into motion until the November election. Days before the election, a letter was circulated to most of the residents in the village.
On Oct. 30, a few residents in the village
received a letter that said the village residents would see a $650 per house if the village corporation was surrendered to the township. It also said a 3-mill levy would be imposed.
While the letter was unsigned, Rolston immediately took responsibility for the letter when asked if he had circulated it.
Councilor Greg Ritchie said he felt that the village residents were done a disservice by Rolston’s actions.
Speaking on the claims of the possible $650 rate hike, he said “It wasn’t going to happen.”
“To insinuate the trustees were going to sneak a rate in was an insult,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie also addressed claims made by the mayor stating that funding would pick back up as the national economy recovered. Rolston claimed last month he felt the economy was beginning to recover and that the village would pick up some of their lost funding.
“The economy is not coming back,” Ritchie said. “What we are hearing, they are going to take more. To say we have more revenue coming is not true. If you know something we don’t know, base it on facts.”
State officials are unlikely to reinstate funds if the economy recovers and state coffers start to receive more money.
Ritchie also called on the mayor to be “civil and honest.”
Councilors Marilyn Fleck and Elaine Wenning took it a step further, claiming possible criminal wrongdoing by the mayor. Their claims included malfeasance, obstructing official business, and violating his oath of office.
“I had a lady tell me the $650 claim was the reason why she changed her vote,” Fleck said.
The issue failed by a vote of 60-57.
Fleck also commented on removing the stamped envelopes from post office boxes by Rolston and Uniopolis Postmaster Link Noykos.
“I was asked not to cause problems for Link (Noykos),” Fleck said, “but it is a felony to take out spammed envelopes.”
Fleck also commented on claims she said another area mayor had made about the township trustees.
“They said, ‘Do you think the township cares?’” Fleck said. “I think those three men care.”
Wenning further leveled on the mayor.
“When we took office, we took an oath,” Wenning said. “He is supposed to be a reliable leader. He violated the honesty of the oath. He communicated information that he knew was not correct. He was using his position to sway the vote.”
After reading from her prepared statement, an initial motion was made to vote on the resignation of the mayor. After discussion, the motion was modified to vote on asking the mayor to resign, but the move was defeated.
Councilors Fleck, Jason Wenning, and Elaine Wenning voted yes, while Ritchie and John Webb abstained. David Kohlreiser voted no. Rolston said he had no plans of resigning his position.
Councilors now face the dilemma of what to do next. Possibilities being considered include placing the issue back on the ballot in May and placing a fire levy or an operating levy to help with funding.
Councilors also have the option of implementing a 1 percent income tax levy on the citizenry.
The councilors also expressed an interest in putting unincorporation back up to a vote. If they do in fact put it back up for a vote, that plan on issuing information they say is more correct and not full of rumors.
“I don’t know what we are going to do,” Ritchie said. “We need to have feedback from the residents.”
Rolston did not want to comment on any of the councilor’s claims or concerns, but said he plans to “see this through.”
“I am not going to resign,” he said. “I did not take this job to make friends.”
The meeting was adjourned and scheduled to re-convene at 7 p.m. Dec. 27.
Council also addressed a letter to the editor placed in the Wapakoneta Daily News Nov. 28 by Kathy Rolston-Fisher, who is Rolston’s daughter. In her letter, Rolston-Fisher said she found it “ironic that roads were paved, directly in front of council members homes, just days before the election.”
She also said council members should focus on ways the village can survive rather than putting it right back on the ballot again.
“If that’s your solution, then maybe its not the mayor should resign,” the letter said.
Council members expressed disapproval with the letter.
“I didn’t appreciate the letter to the editor,” Ritchie said. “The road paving project was done before any of these members of council were on besides Elaine (Wenning). So to put it in the paper was an insult to all the council members and I don’t appreciate it. I think it should be retracted. It should be based on truth.”