By: Bill O’Connell
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
As expected and as previously agreed upon, the Village of Swanton followed the leads of the Villages of Archbold and Delta and put forth an ordinance petitioning the Fulton County Commissioners to redefine the boundaries of their adjacent townships, Fulton and Swancreek, to exclude all Village property. The first reading of Ordinance 2016-23 was passed with a 6-0 vote by the Council members but not before an explanation was given by Mayor Ann Roth followed by a lengthy and occasionally tense discussion.
Mayor Roth related some details of a May 31 meeting with officials from the other two municipalities then conveyed what the Swanton contingent took from it. “To the pros and cons of the system we currently have as far as being a municipal resident/tax payer there simply is no pro for residents being encompassed by two jurisdictions,” she stated. “Overlapping lines often lead to much confusion on who the jurisdictional authority lies within. Our residents in the village are truly getting double taxed but not receiving any services for paying that (extra) tax.”
Swancreek Township Trustee Rick Kazmierczak was in attendance and while he and Mayor Roth agreed that Swanton and his township had a long-standing friendly and respectful relationship, he had an issue with Swanton agreeing to this action before informing or discussing the situation with Swancreek. “I was surprised by this. We understand why you’re doing it. I just wish that we could have been included in the discussions from the beginning,” said Mr. Kazmierczak addressing the council.
“Because it is going to be a rather significant hit to our budget and we’re going to have to prepare for that.” Mr. Kazmierczak went on to explain that the potential loss of tax revenue comprises 11% of the Swancreek Township budget.
Councilwoman Tamara Haselman also voiced her concern about the “out-of-the-blue” manner in which the townships learned of the impending legislation. “I agree with Rick. It’s come as a surprise,” she said. “We talked about it briefly and it wasn’t on the agenda. We just discussed about how to go about doing it and it was never discussed again since then. And to see it in the papers and brought up this way, my biggest concern was how the townships felt about it. I’m all for it to go through but it’s the way it’s been presented is what I’m disappointed in.”
One reason for the way the information was publicized and the seemingly sudden timing of it, as Mayor Roth pointed out, was the fact that both Archbold and Delta held their council meetings a full week prior to Swanton’s and initiated similar legislation at that time.
It was also pointed out that all three villages, independently and at different times, had attempted to separate from the townships before, without success. “Going back nine or ten years, we’ve already been down this path,” said Councilman Mike Rochelle. “We’re just now at a time where a couple of other villages are now willing to go down that path with us. So this is kind of a re-enlightenment of an old topic.”
Everyone did agree, however, that this was just the beginning of a long process and there was still a long way to go before any decisions are rendered.
Prior to addressing the sensitive secession topic, the council moved to fill the council seat vacated by the sudden passing of Gary Moore. Several applications had been received and considered and the council appointed Kathy Kreuz, a former councilwoman and the sitting council clerk to finish out Mr. Moore’s term which runs until 12/31/17. Ms. Kreuz formally resigned her position as clerk and was sworn in by Village Law Director Alan Lehenbauer. Karla Sexton, Finance Director, assumed Ms. Kreuz’s clerk duties for the remainder of meeting.
In other news, a report from the Finance Committee stated it will be presenting at the next council meeting a new fee for utilities shut-offs and rental fees for the new community center.
Four emergency ordinances, 2016-19 through 2016-22, each citing a violation of Swanton Village Code of Ordinances Section 92.13 were approved unanimously. Section 92.13 deals primarily with properties within the village that are deemed to be a nuisance due to the accumulation of garbage, refuse or debris and/or overgrown vegetation.
The council, by a 5-1 vote, also approved the purchase of one $100 advertisement in both the Swanton High School Athletic Program and the Swanton High School Yearbook.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at