Village of Harveysburg stays intact, but financial future is uncertain

Harveysburg voters decided not to surrender their corporate powers during Tuesday’s general election, but they also rejected a pair of tax levies that will expire on Dec. 31, putting funding for the community in question.

In final, unofficial results from the Warren County Board of Elections, the vote was 55.07% against dissolution to 44.93% for the surrender of its corporate powers.

With a population of about 554 residents that includes 443 registered voters, 276 ballots were cast in this election that determined the future of the village. The margin was 28 votes. Had the issue been approved, the village would have dissolved and would be absorbed into Massie Twp.

Harveysburg residents upset about new permit and inspection fees approved in August opted to fight town hall by placing a question on the Nov. 7 general ballot proposing the surrender of the village’s corporate powers, to dissolve the village which was founded in 1829.

The current village council also has a final reading for a 3% entertainment admissions tax scheduled for its Nov. 13 meeting. The tax could generate an additional $150,000 to $180,000 a year for the village mostly from visitors to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, according to Council President Mark Tipton.

Tax levies fail for second year in a row

Voters rejected a pair of five-year “renewal and increase” tax levies for police for general operating costs. Both levies, which expire Dec. 31, 2023, are critical to providing services to residents, according to village officials.

The operating levy would have generated $33,000 a year and cost a property owner $70 per $100,000 of property valuation, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office. It was rejected by a vote of 61.29% against to 38.71% for, according to final, unofficial results from the Warren County elections board.

The proposed police levy renewal and increase would have generated about $30,000 a year and cost a property owner $63 per $100,000 of property valuation, according to the county auditor’s office. This levy failed by a unofficial vote of 63.57% against to 36.43% for.

Mayor race

In the mayoral race, unofficial voting had Jonathan Funk, 51, defeating Christian Foster, 53, by a vote of 66% to 34%. Funk said he’s looking forward to taking office and is happy residents voted to keep the village intact.

“I think it’s really good and the residents were informed of the ramifications of surrendering its power as a village,” he said. “We would have lost local representation and lose tax revenues.”

A slight change in council makeup

In a three-way race for the two open Harveysburg council seats, Patrick Bennett (36%) and Richard Verga (34%) were elected, while incumbent council president Mark Tipton (30%) was not. Tipton was originally appointed to fill a vacant council seat.

Resident Mike Hatfield, who organized the petition drive to place the dissolution question on the ballot, said they came close to their goal and hopes council will listen more to the residents in the future.

“We voted down the tax levies. Now we have to figure things out without taking punches at each other,” he said. “I think there needs to be a moratorium on the admissions tax and that the new council should make that decision. Everybody needs to take a breath, reset and sit down and talk about it. They need us, the residents. They won’t have a tax passed if they don’t listen to us.”

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