Swanton Village Council last Monday passed the first reading of an ordinance that would seek to separate the village from Swancreek and Fulton townships in Fulton County.
Council approved the reading unanimously, but there were some concerns voiced. Two more readings are required for the ordinance, and final approval of the separation would be up to the Fulton County Commissioners. The ordinance does not include Lucas County.
The councils of Archbold and Delta had previously passed first readings of similar measures for their villages.
Swanton Councilman Mike Rochelle said the main reason for the ordinance is the taxes village residents pay to the township without seeing any services. “We’re just looking to define some tax boundaries and have the monies that our village residents pay go to the entity that serves them,” he said.
Mayor Ann Roth agreed, saying it was antiquated and unnecessary to have overlapping townships and municipalities. “(Village residents) are truly getting double-taxed but not receiving any services for paying that tax,” she said.
Village residents in Swancreek Township pay inside millage and a fire/EMS levy to the township. Fulton Township residents in the village pay that as well as a roads levy.
“We do treasure their friendship and the ability to work with them on mutual interest projects,” said Roth.
The loss of tax money to the townships would be considerable, and the way the issue was communicated was brought up as a concern.
“I just wish that we could have been included in the discussions from the beginning, because it is going to be a rather significant hit to our budget, and we’re going to have to prepare for that,” Rick Kazmierczak, Swancreek Township Trustee said at the meeting.
Council member Tamara Haselman voiced concern about that communication with the townships. “That was another one of my questions and concerns. How was it presented, and how do they prepare for the financial change?”
She added that there is no need to rush this through so fast without discussion with the townships.
“I’m not going to be mad at everybody, but again, people that are working together don’t do this to each other,” Kazmierczak said. “This is 11 percent of our budget.”
Roth said that the village understands the struggle of losing a significant portion of yearly revenue.
“The Village of Swanton, if anyone, knows how to juggle a budget,” Roth said. “Especially when we lost the turnpike plazas, and we lost well over $250,000 a year, just in that water revenue alone.”
Following discussion, council unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance with an agreement to discuss the matter further with township representatives.
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010