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Bill meant for New Rome not likely to affect village



Published: Mon, March 31, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



With new levy, Yankee Lake's finances have improved.

& lt;a href=mailto:siff@vindy.com & gt;By STEPHEN SIFF & lt;/a & gt;

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

YANKEE LAKE -- A bill targeting a legendary speed trap near Columbus probably will not catch the microscopic burg of Yankee Lake in its sweep, officials from the Ohio Municipal League say.

The bill, which is moving through the Statehouse, would allow the state auditor to ask a county court of common pleas to dissolve villages under 100 people.

Yankee Lake, with 99 residents in the 2000 census, is the only town in northeast Ohio small enough to be affected.

About a year ago, then-state Auditor Jim Petro "strongly urged" residents of this town on state Route 7 in Brookfield Township to consider dissolving the village, which spent more on administrative costs than it did on services to residents.

And although Yankee Lake had financial problems -- it was placed in fiscal watch for ending 2001 with its bank account $1,034 in the red -- it does not seem to meet the strict criteria for financial problems and corruption written into the bill.

About New Rome

"This is a New Rome bill, period," said John Mahoney, deputy director of the municipal league.

New Rome's main street is only four blocks along West Broad Street (old U.S. Route 40), seven miles west of Columbus, but police officers there wrote traffic citations totaling nearly $400,000 in 2001.

Five New Rome clerks have been convicted of theft since the village was founded in 1941 and two mayors and a police chief have resigned amid theft accusations, according to a Car and Driver magazine/Web site feature on the town last month.

To top it off, there has not been an elected member of New Rome village council since 1979, the magazine reports. Council members have all been appointed because there is not much interest in running for office in the village with 60 residents and fewer than a dozen homes.

Criteria

The bill, approved by the Ohio Senate this week and expected to pass the House, allows a village to be dissolved by a court if at least two of the following six criteria are met:

UThe village has failed to follow election laws for two consecutive election cycles.

UState auditors have declared the village's books "unauditable" in at least two consecutive audits.

UThe village does not provide at least two services typically provided by municipal government, such as police or fire protection, garbage collection, water or sewer service, emergency medical services, road maintenance or similar service.

UThe village has failed to adopt a tax budget, as required by state law.

UVillage officials have been convicted two times of theft in office over the last 10 years.

UThe village has been in fiscal emergency -- a more severe designation than fiscal watch in which the state oversees all financial matters -- for at least three consecutive years "with little or no improvement in the conditions that caused the fiscal emergency declaration."

In November, Yankee Lake voters passed a 3.9-mill levy to put the village back on the road toward solvency. The five-year levy will raise $8,148 annually.

The village should be removed from the auditor's fiscal watch list this summer, said Mayor John Jurko.

& lt;a href=mailto:siff@vindy.com & gt;siff@vindy.com & lt;/a & gt;




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