Loans, deals topic of village

UNIOPOLIS — The Union Township trustees held a question-and-answer session at its regular meeting Wednesday as 18 people attended the meeting.

The trustees held the open session for residents who may have questions concerning potential changes if the village should decide to surrender its corporate powers in an issue on the November ballot. Included in the audience were Assistant Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Augsberger, Uniopolis Solicitor Angie Elliott, two members of the Cridersville Village Council and a representative from the state Auditor’s Office.

Elliott told attendees the village has paid off all loans it currently has in an effort to make the transition smoother.

Two issues she said may need addressed included a year-to-year contract with the Uniopolis Fire Department for services and a lease for easement of the sewer system that runs beneath the railroad tracks in town.

Elliott said the situation with the sewer needed to be looked into due to the county eventually taking over governing of the sewer system.

“There are some unique issues with that,” Elliott said. “We don’t know if you (the township) or the county will be responsible for that.”

Councilors Greg Ritchie and Marilyn Fleck told the trustees the majority of questions posed to them have been concerning zoning concerns, and one resident attending the meeting asked if the township would lower their $750 building permit fees if the village dissolved.

“The price of the permit will not go down,” Trustee Dale Miller said. “Not if I have anything to do with it. We still have the same problem with upkeep.”

Township Zoning Inspector Chuck Copeland reminded the crowd that the fee only was in effect for new single family dwellings and likely would not come into play.

“I don’t see anyone trying to come in and build in Uniopolis,” Copeland said.

Copeland and the trustees then explained fees for add-ons or storage structure facilities, which were less expensive than the $750.

Miller said if the village does choose to unincorporate, or disenfranchise, Choice One Engineering will likely be brought in and the area that now officially encompasses the village will have separate zoning regulations from the more rural parts of the township.

“We realize the same zoning will not work for in town,” Miller said.

The trustees discussed government funds, however the amount the township may receive is currently not clear with the new year on the horizon. No additional local government funds have yet been promised to the township if the village dissolves.

Township Treasurer Cindy Bourn said the move could also create extra work temporarily with bookkeeping.  

With temporary appropriations due by the end of January, Bourn was hoping the village could have its mandatory audit from the state so they could officially close the books by that time.

However, Elliott said it was a push to complete it in that time.

She said the audit would likely be completed around the end of the first quarter (or April 1).

Two Uniopolis Village Council members submitted petitions to the full council in June with 75 signatures to put the unincorporation issue up for a vote. The village needed 37 signatures. The petitions were verified just a few days later by the Auglaize County Election Board.

Councilors decided to put the issue to ballot due to budget cutbacks which they say have caused the village to not have enough money to operate.