By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON – The Enon Village Council held its first regular session of 2017 on Tuesday evening, Jan. 10, following the village’s annual organizational meeting.
The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Enon Community Historical Society President Tim DeVore who spoke to Enon Mayor Tim Howard and village council members about the historical society’s community project for 2017. DeVore stated that the local non-profit organization was planning to erect two historical signs in the village, pending the approval of the village council. DeVore explained that the 24-inch-by-36-inch signs would be placed on the Enon Adena Indian Burial Mound and in Settler’s Park.
“The sign that will be erected on the mound will provide visitors with information about the second-largest conical mound in Ohio. The sign that will be placed in Settler’s Park will include information about the first woman mayor in Enon, Enon-based Honor Flight and NASA Astronaut Virgil Ivan ‘Gus’ Grisson who once resided in Enon,” DeVore told Howard and council members.
Council members approved DeVore’s request and also, approved his request to move the unattractive No Trespassing signs on the mound.
In other business, the six-member council was evenly divided in their vote regarding Howard’s reappointments of John Downs, Dawn Hensley and Jennifer Hawks to the Enon Board of Zoning Appeals. Council Members Elmer Beard, Jeremy Whitacre and Lorri DeVore voted in favor of the proposed reappointments. However, Council Members Stephen Trout, Brenda Sweet and Rick Hanna voted against the measure. In a rare move, Howard cast the tie-breaking vote to approve Downs, Hensley and Hawks’ reappointments.
In a 5-1 vote, with Hanna casting the dissenting vote, council approved placing a five-year, 5-mill additional policy levy on the May 2 primary ballot. Voters initially rejected the police levy during the November general election. If approved, the levy would cost the owner of a home with a tax value of $100,000 an additional $175 per year or $14.58 per month, Enon Fiscal Officer Diana McCubbin said. The levy would provide about $225,000 a year for the department and the needed funding to hire two additional fulltime police officers.
During a lengthy discussion prior to the vote, McCubbin pointed out to Howard and council members that placing the proposed levy on the ballot during a special election would cost the village between $2,000 and $3,000 dollars, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office. However, Howard said he had just reviewed the village’s financial situation when preparing the proposed annual budget for 2017 and noted that the police department would need additional funding to operate efficiently in the upcoming years.
“I just got done reviewing our finances, and I fully understand what will happen in the future if the funding is not there, Operating costs are rising, and revenues from the state are decreasing every year,” said Howard.
Beard echoed Howard’s statement about the annual state cuts to municipalities and noted that local government is now left with “picking up the slack.”
Hanna, who is the chair of the Public Safety Committee, said both village officials and local voters must face the growing need for a tax measure that will sufficiently fund local law enforcement.
“No one wants to pay additional taxes, but we have to provide the public safety services our citizens expect. We have to look at what happen with the township. They lost their township sheriff’s deputy because a small replacement levy failed. Are we willing to accept the same outcome?” Hanna said. “Maybe, we need to look at the amount of the millage and possibly reduce it.”
“If we do not place enough millage on the ballot to operate the police department for the next five years, we will have to go back to the voters in a couple of years and ask for more money,” Trout replied. “We need two more fulltime police officers at this time too.”
Whitacre also took issue with the fact that the Greenon School District could possibly have a levy on the ballot during the same election.
“The school district is in need of funding to build and operate the schools. However, if the school levy passes, there will be a greater need for police protection at these new school sites,” Whitacre said.
“Schools are very important. However, good police protection is equally important,” Sweet added.
Following the vote, Howard instructed McCubbin to submit an Emergency Resolution of Necessity to the county auditor’s office.
Enon Police Chief Lewis Wilcox reported to council that Speedway LLC had donated $3,500 to the village police department that would be used to purchase four police vests.
“On behalf of the Enon Police Department, I would like to thank Speedway for its generous donation to the department. The money will be put to good use,” Wilcox said.
The next regular session of the Enon Village Council will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the Enon Government Center, 363 E. Main St., and are open to the public.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.