Group submits petition for village dissolution
The referendum would be on the Nov. 8 ballot if certified by the elections board.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
NEW WATERFORD -- A small group of New Waterford residents, led by a former village council president, wants to dissolve the village.
The group submitted petitions with 201 signatures to the village's fiscal officer to place a referendum on the Nov. 8 general election ballot "to surrender the corporate powers of the village."
The village has about 1,600 residents and is located between East Palestine and Columbiana. New Waterford is in Unity Township, and its residents pay township taxes, vote on township issues and can run for township trustee, said Kevin Todd.
Todd, a former village council president, is leading a group of four people -- that also includes former Mayor James Rupert -- who collected the signatures. He said there is no reason to have the village when it is already in the township.
Among the group's biggest gripes about the village, Todd said, are:
UThe village council imposed a 1 percent income tax in 2002. It was repealed in November 2003 by a ballot initiative, but council reinstated it a short time later.
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," Todd said. "To put the tax back on shows council doesn't respect the voters' wishes."
UTo stop the infighting among council members and village officials.
In the past three and a half years, half of the six-member council resigned, two fiscal officers quit, the village is currently without a village solicitor, and the position of clerk-treasurer was abolished.
Council President Bill Mullarkey said council is working together now, and its members are moving the village in the right direction.
Todd said council has been in chaos for years, and if its members are getting along, it's a recent development.
"The anonymity and contention in council tends to make moving the village in the right direction difficult," he said.
UBesides the income tax, village residents would see a reduction in their property taxes if it approves the proposed initiative. New Waterford residents pay 14.7 mills in taxes to the village while Unity Township residents pay 6.5 mills to the township. If the village is dissolved, its residents would see a decrease in their property taxes, Todd said.
The petitions were submitted last week to the village fiscal officer for public review as per state law, and will be turned over to the Columbiana County Board of Elections late this week. The elections board will review the petitions to determine if they contain enough valid signatures to be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The group had to collect the valid signatures of 160 village residents. The petitions contain 201 signatures.
Mullarkey isn't pleased with the referendum effort, saying to dissolve the village would be a big mistake.