FORT SHAWNEE — Many residents packed into the Fort Shawnee municipal building for the first Village Council meeting since residents decided to dissolve the village in a 55 percent to 45 percent vote two weeks ago.
The meetings now serve to maintain services and approve expenditures until things begin to transition over to Shawnee Township. New expenditures cannot be introduced because the vote passed to disincorporate.
“It’s kind of a hold in place pattern,” said Fort Shawnee Mayor Pete Mariotti. “We all have a lot to learn yet about exactly what the process is to become dissolved. It’s a very unusual situation. It doesn’t happen very often.”
After a 30-minute executive session, two staff resignations were announced: the chief of police and volunteer zoning inspector. Sgt. Charles Seeley was named chief to take over George Schlock’s position during the interim, who was chief since the beginning of the year. The change is effective immediately. And Steve McConnell had been working as a volunteer zoning inspector since March; the village is now seeking someone to replace him.
Mariotti said the resignations weren’t unexpected. He appreciates the great quality work both of them have done for Fort Shawnee, saying they were both dedicated to wanting to make the community thrive.
But before the resignations were announced, the meeting went along much like normal, passing expenditures and hearing public comment. Councilman Dan Henry spoke out about his being against the high percentage tacked onto the levy, which residents voted down on Election Day. But Robin Anderson said the meetings are simply a formality now.
“The heart of the matter is, right now, we have to dissolve the village,” said Anderson, who was treasurer for the pro-village committee Our Village, Our Future and a former Fort Shawnee councilwoman.
She said going down the line, things are going to get very complicated. She said reincorporating the village is possible with petitioning, too, and she said the idea may become more popular once transitioning begins.
“This is uncharted waters, and no one knows the time frames or the rules of law,” she said. “Effective Jan. 1, the township takes over. But if there are disagreements in the court about waterlines, garbage contracts or anything else, it can delay it. … And in that time, who’s plowing our roads?”
Mariotti said it’s a very good possibility that they could be going to court over who owns the waterlines, although he’s not sure how exactly that would be done yet.
“There will be attorneys involved,” he said.
Anderson said that Mariotti’s chance to turn the community around was cut short, because he was only mayor since the beginning of the year.
“It was my opportunity to give something back,” Mariotti said. “I thought it was very well worth saving.”