WEST ELKTON — Village Council members discussed open council seats, efforts to deal with blighted and unkempt properties in the village, and voted to place a 1.25-mill renewal levy on the ballot during their regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 14.
Council voted unanimously to approve the third and final reading of a resolution to place a five-year, 1.25-mill renewal levy on the ballot to fund village EMS services. West Elkton currently contracts with the Village of Gratis to provide ambulance and other emergency medical services to its residents.
The levy will appear on the ballot in November and, if approved, funds would begin being collected in 2022.
Empty council seats
Three council seats will be up for vote in November, according to Fiscal Officer Venida Thompson; councilman John Berter also intends to seek re-election to his own seat. Candidates for the open seats must be at least 18 years of age, currently live in the village, and must have resided there for at least one continuous year.
Councilman Gary Thompson stated that he had spoken with the village solicitor about reducing the number of council seats needed to govern the municipality; local ordinances currently call for six council members in addition to the Mayor and Fiscal Officer.
“It’s been a long time since we had six,” Thompson said. “We’ve had such a hard time filling empty seats.”
Three of the six seats are currently filled by Thompson, Berter and council member Deborah Depew. Thompson informed the council that the number could be reduced to five; an emergency ordinance to that effect will most likely be voted on in July, according to Thompson.
Thompson also reported that a total of seven citations had been issued to residents whose properties are considered to be a blight on the village. Thompson initially proposed an ordinance allowing the village to cite owners of blighted or unkempt properties in June 2019; the measure was voted into law in Jan. 2021.
A first round of citations was issued Monday, April 12, according to Thompson, with fines being levied against residents who failed to respond by May 19.
“In most cases they’re having the desired effect,” Thompson said, indicating that the majority of residents contacted had responded and begun making improvements. “Most people are doing the right thing.”
Residents are given approximately one month after receiving an initial citation letter to begin making improvements before a $100 fine is imposed, according to Thompson. If unpaid, fines could eventually be assessed against the residents’ property taxes.
“As long as they’re moving forward, we’ll work with them,” Thompson said of residents asked to make improvements. “At the same time, we don’t want to back off too much if they’re not doing what they say they’re going to do.”
Council also discussed making improvements to three unused baseball diamonds located at the south end of the village.
“We’ve talked about repurposing [the property] or finding some other use,” Thompson said. “Maybe some kind of park for the kids. Give them somewhere to shoot basketball, and maybe some stuff for the little kids.”
Thompson suggested soliciting donations from residents to try and refurbish the area.
“We don’t have a lot of kids at the moment, but that comes and goes,” Thompson said.
Village council meetings take place the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the West Elkton Municipal Building, located at 135 N. Main St.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish