A letter on village stationery promotes the first tax levy in 25 years as antidote to annexation.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
YANKEE LAKE -- It has only two main roads, but Yankee Lake still can't make ends meet.
On Thursday, Yankee Lake, population 99, became the smallest village ever to make the Ohio auditor's fiscal watch list, officials said.
The designation is intended to warn local officials that a government entity is heading toward fiscal emergency. In layman's terms: the money's gone. That's when the state auditor appoints a commission to run the show.
State Auditor Jim Petro, however, would be just as happy if the village itself disappeared.
Where is it? Yankee Lake, just a blink of an eye on state Route 7 at the northern edge of Brookfield Township, ended last year with the general fund that was $1,034 in the red.
The village collects about $10,000 a year from property and inheritance taxes.
"Most of this revenue goes toward the salary of the village clerk and very limited services are provided to village residents," Petro wrote in a letter to Mayor John Jurko.
"Based on these facts, and due to the village's declining financial condition, I would strongly urge you and village officials to consider dissolving village operations."
Some residents approve.
"Other than saying we have our own little elected officials, being a village means nothing," said Mary J. Bebech, who served as clerk for five years in the 1980s.
Yankee Lake has no water or sewer lines and no road department.
It contracts with Brookfield Township for fire and police protection.
"What belongs to the village is 10 streetlights. No buildings, that's it," she said.
Jurko refused to comment on the fiscal watch designation or say where village budget records are kept.
He says he does not know how much clerk Arlene Egelsky is paid. Egelsky could not be reached.
"It varies from year to year," Jurko said from behind the counter of Yankee Lake Inn, the dimly lit restaurant and bar that is the sole reason the village exists.
How it started: Yankee Lake was incorporated in 1934 to skirt a law prohibiting Sunday dancing. At the time, Jurko's grandfather owned the inn. Jurko now runs it.
Jurko would not divulge his opinion on dissolving the village, but a few days ago, residents got a letter, printed on village stationery, promoting a tax increase.
The letter, signed "Yankee Village Council" suggested that an increase was the only way the village could avoid being absorbed back into Brookfield Township.
The village has not increased its millage since 1977, the letter said, and the increase being proposed would still be less than their neighbors in Brookfield pay in property taxes.
The exact amount is being "saved" for a community meeting April 17 at the inn.
The letter also said Yankee Lake residents could also face the possibility of future zoning regulations if they are absorbed into the township.
Brookfield is one of only four townships in Trumbull County that does not have zoning. Voters have rejected zoning three times since 1982, the latest in the November general election.
Several residents oppose annexation.
"We don't want it," said Jason Woolf, 30, who learned to swim in Yankee Lake before it was filled in for a motorcycle race track.
"Yankee Lake has been just fine the way it is."
No council members could be reached.