Village of Batavia working on its third annexation

The village of Batavia is pursuing another annexation that could bring several properties along state Route 32 into the village, including county government offices and Batavia High School.

“The village of Batavia is working with several property owners on a potential annexation,” Dennis Nichols, village administrator, said. “We don’t have a petition ready to file, so we can’t disclose any details.”

Nichols did say the village is looking at properties east of the current village limits, which would include the county office complex near Bauer Road and Batavia High School.

“The other properties involved aren’t even decided,” Nichols said.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, an Expedited Type 2 annexation requires property owners’ permission, however, contiguous properties owned by government entities can be included in the annexation without permission from employees of the entity.

Once the properties are in the village, property owners are able to receive certain services from the village. In addition, the village is able to collect a 1 percent earnings tax from employees who work at the annexed properties.

Nichols said he spoke with Batavia Township Administrator Rex Parsons about working together on the annexation, however, Parsons and the Batavia Township Trustees expressed opposition to the potential annexation.

They discussed their feelings and passed a formal resolution to express their opposition to another annexation at a special meeting April 19.

“They are looking for a revenue stream at the hardship of others,” Trustee Jim Sauls said at the special meeting. “We don’t agree with that.”

Sauls said he and the other trustees believe the law is unfair because it gives the village the ability to impose an earnings tax without consulting the employees at the properties.

Trustees also expressed concerns about more township properties being annexed in the future and what that could mean for the township.

“In the long term it is going to be a detriment to people developing on 32,” Trustee Bill Dowdney said.

In addition to expressing their opposition to the potential annexation, trustees passed a resolution to retain the law firm Newhouse, Prophater, Lechter and Moots, to provide legal council on issues relating to annexation.

Administrator Rex Parsons also spoke with members of the Batavia Local School District Board of Education about the annexation at their meeting April 23.

After discussing the issue, board members resolved to oppose the potential annexation by a unanimous vote.

“It’s taking something from the people,” Mark Ewing, a board member, said. “I don’t agree with that.”

Michael Enriquez, president of the board, said the board can oppose annexation in principle, but their opposition will do nothing to actually stop the annexation from occurring.

Batavia Township Trustees and then the Clermont County Commissioners are able to review the petition, however, if the petition is error-free and meets requirements outlined in sections 709.021, 709.023 and 709.024 of the Ohio Revised Code, then the annexation should be approved.

“Unfortunately that is the way the law is written,” Parsons said at the school board meeting. “This is taxation without representation.”

Parsons said an amendment to the law, House Bill 50, is currently being reviewed at the state level. He said the amendment would still allow municipalities to annex government land, but they would not be able to tax employees on the land.

Nichols said he is not sure when the village will file the petition, but he said he would like to have it done in the next month.

Nichols said he expects that the annexation will bring in approximately $200,000 to the village. He said he thinks the annexation is something that the village should have pursued years ago.

“These are public agencies that belong in the county seat,” Nichols said. “The high school moved out of the village and the commissioners moved several offices out of the county seat.”