CINCINNATI (AP) — A recent analysis has found a rising number of small towns in Ohio have disbanded in recent years.
An analysis of statewide election results by The Cincinnati Enquirer found 12 small towns across the state have gone defunct in the past 15 years, according to the newspaper . All but one had fewer than 500 residents.
The number of small towns that are dying has increased as costs go up and revenues decline, the newspaper reported.
Residents of Newtonsville and Amelia in southwestern Ohio’s Clermont County are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to dissolve those two villages. They would be absorbed by surrounding townships, if voters approve dissolution.
Newtonsville, with about 400 residents, is roughly 34 miles northeast of Cincinnati. Amelia has a population of around 5,000 and is about 17 miles southeast of Cincinnati.
The imposition of a 1% tax on residents’ income in each town has spurred some to support dissolution, while opponents argue that villages provide a personal touch not found in townships.
Some Newtonsville residents have said they hope disbanding will alleviate the village’s financial troubles. The Ohio state auditor criticized the 181-year-old village in 2019 for unpaid bills and running a deficit of $112,000.
Carol Haddix, a former clerk-treasurer for Newtownsville, said the vote may be the village’s best chance to make up for financial losses.
“I think it’s probably for the best,” Haddix said. “They can’t seem to get out of the red because they won’t work together.”
But some Newtonsville residents want to keep the village.
Don “Butch” Wilson, who served two stints on the village council, said he’s concerned that Wayne Township’s administration won’t take as much care with public duties like snow plowing.
Newtonsville Mayor Kevin Pringle is also opposed to dissolution. He said he has a plan to bring the village back that would involve annexing surrounding streets and expanding the village’s size.
In Amelia, some residents see the earnings tax as an added layer of government without any benefit.
“When they told me they would tax 1% of the money I make, I drew a line in the sand,” said Ed McCoy, who favors dissolving the town.
Amelia Mayor Todd Hart argues that the earnings tax will go toward paying Amelia’s seven police officers and paving roads. He also says being in a small town carries a sense of community that can’t be replicated in a township.
“We’re the people’s government,” Hart said. “I don’t know why you want to get rid of that form of government.”