Township requests village drop secession efforts

Ohio, Pierce stand to lose tax revenue

In a letter dated Dec. 8, Pierce Township officials requested that the New Richmond Village Council stop its efforts to create its own township. According to Administrator Dave Elmer, the letter asked New Richmond to do three things: 1) withdraw its petition to the Clermont County Commissioners to create its own township; 2) rescind the ordinance giving the village council permission to pursue forming a new township; and 3) meet with Pierce and Ohio Townships to talk about how to deliver services to residents without revenue loss.

Elmer said that as of Dec. 10, he had not received an answer from New Richmond.

The property that New Richmond would take with it should it withdraw from Pierce Township is part of Duke Energy’s Beckjord Plant. Elmer described it as “Unit Six” or the building with the smokestack closest to the village.

“Beckjord is the largest owner, employer and tax payer in Pierce Township,” said Elmer.

He projected that Pierce would lose between $15,000 and $20,000 in taxes if Beckjord’s Unit Six became part of the planned “New Richmond Township.”

The loss of Unit Six would be only the latest blow to Pierce Township’s budget. Like all government entities and school districts dependent on money from Duke Energy’s tax payments, the township stands to lose money for the next seven years.

Duke’s appeal to the Ohio Tax Commission to reformulate its personal property tax amount will, if successful, result in a yearly loss of more than $390,000 to Pierce Township. Additionally, a phase-out of government repayments for an earlier tax break on tangible personal property will result in a $600,000 loss by the end of 2017.

New Richmond is losing money, as well. The village stands to loose more than $87,000 per year if the current Duke tax appeal is successful and even more by 2017. The village has not been deterred by Pierce Township’s requests.

Rich Mathews, a New Richmond councilman, said that the village was trying to get its request on the Clermont County Commissioners’ docket by Dec. 15.

“The commissioners are put in an unusual position. If they rule against us we won’t be happy. If they rule for us someone else won’t be happy,” Mathews said.

“Townships statewide are sensitive,” he continued. “They have been losing property, taxes and revenue.”

For Mathews, paying tax money to townships that don’t deliver services to the municipalities doesn’t make sense. New Richmond has its own fire department, maintenance and garbage pick-up. These are traditionally jobs that townships do.

“When we pay money to a township and get nothing in return, something has to be done,” he said. “I consider that double taxation.”

Ohio Township is the other area that would be impacted by New Richmond’s attempt to make a new township. It would lose property taxes on the homes in New Richmond which it currently collects. Mathews said that tax money will go back to the homeowners and New Richmond won’t profit by that savings – except in the goodwill of its citizens.

Mathews pointed out, “In the past, Ohio Township has provided us with services. This year, we only paid $3,500 for a concrete slab our recycling sits on.”

For now, the New Richmond Village Council will forge ahead with its plans in spite of the opposition of its neighbors. The conflict may be a sign of the times.

“When you try to make good decisions and do the right thing, sometimes this happens,” said Mathew. “We have a responsibility to new Richmond.”