The following piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please click here.
In the News…
The Rec. Committee is recruiting Helping Holiday Hands to setup and take down Winter Wonderland Lights in DeRivera Park. Contact head Elf Michele O’Donnell at 440-476-6036. Thank you in advance!
Supreme Court Ruling on Golf Cart Rental Fees Still in Question
In September, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which found the Islander Inn and rental company owner Mark Mathys had to pay the village license fees for renting golf carts for use on the village roads. The businesses had challenged the village fees on vehicles for hire.
Shortly after the Court announced its decision, the ruling was challenged with a motion for reconsideration filed by Mathys. The Village had ten days to file a written opposition to the motion which it did. The Ohio Supreme Court will now issue another ruling which will probably take a matter of a few months.
Water Plant Superintendent Leaves
Put-in-Bay Village’s water plant superintendent Jaime Mendoza resigned a few weeks ago to take a higher paying position in Galion, Ohio, where he will be a supervisor of their water treatment plant. The facility, much larger than Put-in-Bay’s, is responsible for producing an average of 1.3 million gallons of clean drinking water each day.
Over the last three years, Jaime worked for the Village of Put-in-Bay, where he helped to resolve EPA findings, develop an Asset Management Plan, install an Ozone treatment system, and worked and completed a Corrosion Control Study.
Mendoza’s resignation again highlights the island’s continuing problem of finding and keeping qualified personnel to operate the water treatment and sewage treatment plants.
A new superintendent who has worked on Kelleys Island and Middle Bass is in the process of being hired.
Village Looks For Additional Revenue Options
In October, the Put-in-Bay Village Council’s Finance Committee met to discuss revenue raising options to combat what could be a dire budget deficit this coming year. Thanks to the pandemic, the Village’s main income sources, the gross receipt tax on business, the fees from its public docks and the bed tax, are all down. Officials are trying to cut expenses where they can, but it is clear other sources of revenue will definitely be needed to keep the books in the black for the next couple of years.
At the meeting, Reel Bar owner Ray Fogg discussed the budget situation with committee members. He went into detail regarding the current situation as well as possible solutions. The big problem is quickly raising money that will be available for next year, not just two or three years from now.
Here are some of the major suggestions that have been thrown around at a variety of recent meetings to raise revenue:
- Put a real estate tax levy on the ballot to raise money for the police department operations.
- Increase the current gross receipt tax from 1.5% to 2%, 2.5% or 3%.
- Charge a head tax for those coming to the island.
- Put in parking meters downtown or find another way to charge for parking.
- Sell off a portion of the Frederick property on Erie St. to DeRivera Park or the school.
- Have the Township prepay its share of police expenses next year.
- Pursue better collection of the gross receipt tax.
- Pursue collection of vehicle for hire fees that have not been paid.
- Borrow money from the school.
All of these would help raise more revenue, but there are pros and cons to them all. Officials will be making some difficult decisions as they come up with and implement solutions that can handle the budget crisis.
Village Accused of Hiding Police Probe
The Sandusky Register wrote an article in mid October calling for an investigation of the June 6, 2020 incident where a handful of people claimed they were brutalized and wrongfully arrested by Put-in-Bay police.
The Register says Put-in-Bay Village hired Paragon Investigations in late June to review the conduct of the Put-in-Bay police officers involved and now the report is complete, but Village Solicitor Susan Keating Anderson refused to release the report after the newspaper inquired with a public records request.
The incident involved an overloaded golf cart and the arrest of nine people, most of whom were black. Some of those arrested were tased and held off at gunpoint by at least one officer.
Anderson, according to the Register, claimed the report could not be released claiming the records were exempt from disclosure as trial preparation records and also exempt under “the common law attorney work-product doctrine.”
She reportedly added, exemptions “allow a public entity the necessary confidentiality in order to appropriately investigate and defend itself against the potential liability that arises out of such circumstances as occurred on June 6, 2020.”
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