The residents of Fort Shawnee are passionate about their village. It’s easy to see how much they care about it based on the outcry from many of the 3,726 people there, and they speak about it with the reverence most of us have about a loved one.
The village has been on life support for the last year, making some difficult decisions to back away from the cliff of financial devastation. It scaled back its police force. It chose one trash hauler for all residents, eliminating their choice but getting a franchise fee to help solve the village’s woes. It turned off street lights in the village.
These were all desperate measures by the current administration to clean up a mess it inherited, as the village suffered from sloppy bookkeeping and a general refusal to admit how bad things had gotten.
It’s time for the loving children of Fort Shawnee to disconnect the life support of their beloved village and move on with their lives. On Nov. 6, residents there should vote to disincorporate Fort Shawnee and reject a 3.25 mill additional levy on the ballot.
We advocate consolidation of services when it makes sense. In this case, it just makes sense. Fort Shawnee has problems. Shawnee Township, into which the Fort would dissolve, doesn’t.
The police forces and administrative services overlap there, with people doing the same job at each location. It makes perfect sense to absorb them into Shawnee Township and become more efficient.
Opponents of dissolving the village keep talking in circles. They complain that Shawnee Township would reduce police services, yet the township committed to a full-time police officer running through the village on all three shifts. A guaranteed officer running 24 hours a day is better than a handful of part-timers backed up by the sheriff’s office.
Similarly, they talk about how most Shawnee Township residents’ taxes are higher. Auditor Rhonda Eddy-Steineicker confirmed that, saying they’re about $58 more than a comparable home in Fort Shawnee. That having been said, they’ve also said they need this new request for money to keep Fort Shawnee operating. That 3.25 mill levy costs the owner of a $50,000 home $49.76 per year, essentially washing out the difference. Without that new money, there’s no chance these service levels will return.
Then there’s the fear-mongering. Shawnee Township will treat you like a stepchild, one anonymous handout claimed. It’s unlikely that Shawnee Township, with its 12,433 residents, will mistreat their friends and neighbors that make up about one-third of the township. Once you’re taxpayers in Shawnee Township, your voices will be heard in township trustee races and at their meetings, just as they’re heard at Fort Shawnee council meetings.
It’s just as unlikely that city officials in Lima will come down and annex you behind your back. That was the concern when the village formed 50-plus years ago, as people worried about the city annexing the industries in the area. The world has changed since then. Lima no longer aggressively annexes, and it doesn’t have to. With non-withdrawal annexation, landowners and municipalities can get the benefits of annexation without taking all of the tax money away from the township.
There’s so much distrust in Fort Shawnee right now, with people accusing others of lying or trying to distort the facts. The reality is no one can tell for sure exactly how this disincorporation process will work. There are a lot of questions, as it’s uncommon. There will be some surprises along the way, as there are in any new endeavor.
These are all just ridiculous ploys, desperate attempts to hold on for dear life. They’re like trying to find alternative medicines and herbs to treat that loved one on life support, when everyone else in the room can see the end is near.
It’s time for the grieving and healing to begin.