One vote separates surrender

UNIOPOLIS — If anything, Uniopolis residents showed they are in no hurry to find out their election results.

With seven provisional ballots left to be counted in 10 days, the vote to surrender corporate powers of the village tallied 55 for 56 against as unofficial numbers were released by the Auglaize County Elections Board Office.

During the 2011 general election, the race for mayor between Marilyn Fleck and Bill Rolston came down to one vote during unofficial Election Day totals. Rolston eventually won by two votes when provisional ballots were tallied later.

Auglaize County Board of Elections Director Carolyn Campbell said it was also possible a few absentee ballots may have been mailed and not received yet that were postmarked prior to Monday’s deadline.

The vote came on the heels of a tense village council meeting Monday, in which several members of council chastised Rolston for a letter he circulated to residents around town concerning an extra fee of $650 to $750 that would be charged to residents. The letter came out just before the election, and council members had not time to counter the claim for what they felt were bogus claims.

Rolston said would not reveal his source, but said he had been told by a reliable source that village residents could face a $650 to $750 fee for new buildings if the village was absolved into Union Township.

However, Union Township trustees rejected those claims, saying at both their own meeting and a Uniopolis Village Council meeting that the fee was only for new construction of homes.

Rolston claimed to have spoken to a commissioner concerning the fee, but later retracted that statement and said he had no intentions of revealing his source.

Rolston said he had not discussed the preliminary results of the election with anyone, and said he plans to wait and see what happens when the election is certified. However, he did say he felt his letter that went out did not have an impact.

“I don’t think it had any influence not he vote,” Rolston said.

However, councilor members did not share Rolston’s feeling.

“If he didn’t think it would have an impact, then why did he send it out?” councilor Greg Ritchie said. “One has to wonder, with the letter coming out this late.”

“The information was incorrect,” councilor Elaine Wenning said. “The information he had in his letter was discussed at the October meeting.”

Wenning said she felt the council owed the Union Township Trustees an apology for the way they were blindsided by the letter circulated by Rolston.

“We are sorry it happened,” Wenning said. “I know we have freedom of speech, but when you are a mayor, you are a mayor 24 hours, 7 days a week. He should have done his homework about the information he released and discussed it with the council.”

The vote needed a majority to approve the dissolving of the village, so if it results in a tie, the village will keep its corporate status.

Councilors agreed that the measure will force the village to continue down a tough road financially if the move to unincorporate ultimately fails.

“We really thought it would pass, and we hadn’t really made plans on what to do,” Wenning said. “We will really have to put our heads together. To run the town, it is going to take a 10-mill levy. We will be able to take care of the things we absolutely have to, but that is about it.”

Ritchie said street lighting would likely be the next issue.

“We will keep tightening the belt,” Ritchie said. “We all look at taking out some of the street lights. We will ride it out and do what we can do.”