December 7, 2012
SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — It is the beginning of the end for Fort Shawnee. The village will cease providing services to residents, and Shawnee Township will take over, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, village and township officials announced Thursday.
It is a quick turnaround stemming from voters’ 55 to 45 percent vote on Nov. 6 to dissolve the village. Mayor Pete Mariotti said he is surprised with how quickly efforts to disincorporate the village are moving.
“When I was doing research and looking at other villages that were disincorporated their timing was quite a bit longer. It was quicker than either one of us thought would happen,” Mariotti said. “It’s just step one of the process it’s just the transferring of services. The financials and all those things will continue until we get our final audit, we pay the billings that are due. All those things have to be done.”
Mariotti said village employees were told on Wednesday that their employment with the village will be terminated when those services become the township’s responsibility. Mariotti, the village law director and the village fiscal officer will be the only holdovers to see the disincorporation through to the end, he said.
Despite the quick changeover, Shawnee Township Trustee Dave Belton said the township is fully prepared to assume the responsibility of providing all services to residents of the former village immediately.
“We want to make this as seamless as possible,” Belton said. “We want the residents to receive necessary services without interruption in their lives. I’ve checked with our department heads and capabilities to provide that service is not an issue.”
Both entities are working closely with the State Auditor’s office to wrap up village operations as soon as possible. Belton said it could be as soon as the end of the year, but no firm date has been set.
“There’s nothing etched in stone. That’s what they’d like to see,” Belton said. “Adventures like this are not common throughout the state. There have been dissolutions and so on but every one is different so they have to adapt to the circumstances.”
An issue of contention during the campaign was the garbage contract the village entered into designating a sole garbage service provider throughout the village. Mariotti said with the village ceasing operations the contract is “null and void” and village residents will be responsible for selecting their own garbage service provider.
One sign of change that’s already visible. Street lights in the village — dark since last winter as part of drastic measures to balance the village’s budget — have been turned back on, Belton said.
As with any transition, there will be adjustments that will need to be made, Belton said. The bottom line, however, is that residents will see no interruption to services.
“There will be adjustments that will be made and we’re evaluating those as it comes along. One of our concerns is obviously in case we would get snow which undoubtedly through our winters we do, we’ll be addressing that in short order,” Belton said. “Our police chief is currently looking at initially establishing some part-time officers and evaluating to possibly full-time after that. It’s all a process to evaluate what’s going to be best to provide the additional services.”