Proposal would reduce taxes, cut township funding
The Clermont County Commissioners’ public hearing on New Richmond’s petition to form their own “paper” township will be held Wednesday, Feb. 23 and representatives from the village and Ohio and Pierce townships are cautiously awaiting the outcome.
New Richmond has petitioned the commissioners to allow the village to form its own township, which would separate the village from Ohio and Pierce townships. There would be no changes in current structure of the village government, however residents would no longer be eligible to vote in township elections.
The commissioners will hear from the public and discuss the issues 6 p.m. in their offices on the third floor of the Clermont County Administrative Building in Batavia.
The New Richmond Village Council has said its intentions are to reduce the tax burden on their citizens.
“If our petition is approved people living in the village who pay property taxes to the township would no longer have to pay them, nor would those taxes come to us,” Councilman Richard Matthews said.
After researching the process with New Richmond Village Solicitor John Korfhagen, Matthews said the council has determined that New Richmond will maintain the capacity to annex additional land into the village in the future.
“There are state statutes that say we can annex as a village or a township,” Matthews said. “We may have some people in the future that want to come into the village in the future and we certainly don’t want to ruin that for them.”
Matthews said the village has an excellent wastewater treatment plant that is currently operating under capacity and annexing new residents into the village through the process of providing them access to that sewer system is one of their goals.
Ohio Township Fiscal Officer Bill Gilpin said the change would have a significant impact in his township. The Village of New Richmond is almost entirely located in Ohio Township and Gilpin said the township would lose about $51,800 in real estate tax revenue annually if the petition is approved. The revenue is used by the Ohio Township Fire Department to provide mutual aid to the New Richmond Fire Department when needed and Gilpin said the township has cooperated with the village on numerous occasions when purchase equipment for fire and EMS protection and other projects the village has requested. Gilpin said there are additional benefits to being a resident of Ohio Township.
“All of the residents of Ohio Township are entitled to the same services whether they live inside the corporation limits of the village or in the unincorporated area of the township,” Gilpin said. “The township provides a very nice township hall, park and park shelter that is available to reserve and use at no charge to all township residents. The township also prides itself on the condition and maintenance of the township roads that all of the township residents travel.”
While the loss of the village and its revenue will have an impact on all of the Ohio Township Trustees as they go forward with future budgeting plans, the restructuring will have a greater impact on Trustee Rick Hinson.
“Rick Hinson has been a trustee for many years and resides within the village limits,” Gilpin said. “The understanding is that Mr. Hinson would have to resign immediately as he would no longer reside inside the township if the paper township is permitted to be formed.”
Pierce Township will lose between $15,000 and $30,000 annually in revenue if the paper township is approved, however administrator Dave Elmer said unlike Ohio Township, Pierce does not have residents in the village. Their revenue loss would come exclusively from Duke Energy’s Beckjord Power Plant.
“No homes in Pierce Township are with in the Village of New Richmond, only Beckjord will be impacted,” Elmer said. “That is part of the argument we made when we ask New Richmond to rescind its request.”
Elmer said Pierce does not provide any direct services to the village, however there are several indirect services. Pierce Township also provides the village with mutual fire and EMS aid when needed. According to Elmer mutual requests from each fire department is about equal, however Pierce Township regularly makes more EMS runs in the village than New Richmond makes in the township.
The three political subdivision also have an annual contract to minimize response times to various areas in the townships and the village. Elmer said the New Richmond Fire Department can respond to certain areas of Ohio Township faster than their own department and Pierce Township can respond to portions of the village and Ohio Township faster.
Elmer said Pierce Township also provides benefits that are not exclusive to township residents.
“All of our roadways, parks, police department protection are all indirect benefits to everyone,” Elmer said.