Unchartered land: Unincorporation may be considered in Uniopolis

UNIOPOLIS — Uniopolis Village Council members plan to discuss financial concerns of the village next week which could result in placing a levy on the ballot or even dissolving the village at the crossroads of Ohio 65 and Ohio 67.

Councilors called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday to discuss solutions for their financial problems. They plan to discuss the possibility of putting a police levy on the ballot to help a budget that councilors feel the village cannot balance in light of state cuts to municipalities.

Councilors also may discuss the possibility of dissolving its village corporation status and putting the municipality under control of the township.

“It’s something we have to consider seriously,” councilor Jason Wenning said. “We received a 25 percent cut this year and we expect possibly another 25 percent next year.”

Councilors already seem to be preparing for the idea, but they want to get feedback from the community. They expect  a big turnout for Monday’s special council meeting.

“We are trying to see what the people in the village would like to do,” councilor Wayne Rolston said, “but it (unincorporating) needs to be considered. We will sit and go through the numbers at the meeting. The way it looks right now, we are going to be cut tight enough to where we have to cut every little thing.”

Long-time councilor Marilyn Fleck said she doesn’t want to see the village unincorporate, but she is quick to point out the village is running out of options.

“We have always operated everything here out of the general fund and haven’t asked for levies,” Fleck said. “If we put a levy on the ballot, it could pass, but we don’t always have the funds to do the streets or the sewers. The economy is hurting us as it is with a lot of small villages.”

Councilor Greg Ritchie said he is recommending councilors support unincorporating the village but he wants to hear what other residents want to do and hopes for a big turnout at the meeting.

“The cuts we will experience this year are significant because of our size,” Ritchie said. “We are in the fact-finding stage at this point. There are a lot of small villages that will have to look at doing this. I think it’s a good idea but I want to see what the community thinks.”

Ritchie said the move would save residents money and cut down on duplication of services.

“We have six councilors, a mayor, a clerk,” Ritchie said. “The township has three trustees and a clerk. It just seems a better use of taxpayer dollars.”

If the corporation of the village was dissolved, the council and its committees and the Board of Public Affairs would cease to exist. The village would then fall under the care of the Union Township trustees. The trustees officially scheduled a special meeting for Monday so all three could attend the public meeting in Uniopolis.

Councilors plan to discuss the legal proceedings should they  decide to unincorporate.

The nearest village to consider this move was the village of Montezuma in Mercer County. Montezuma councilors recommended the village unincorporate and fall under township jurisdiction in 2002 but the move was narrowly defeated by voters.

Fleck and Ritchie said the move would help alleviate problems of finding people to run for council. Currently, one of the village’s council seats remains empty. Only two of the current five sitting members were elected to their terms with the other three being appointed when nobody ran for spots.

Ritchie said that in January 2010 they did not even have enough councilors attend a meeting  to vote to pay bills until he was appointed to the council.

“We always have to ask,” Fleck said. “No one wants to serve on the council.”

Councilors agreed the township trustees have  expressed a willingness to adopt the village into its care.

“I don’t want to do it,” Fleck said, “but looking down the line, I don’t see things picking up.”