GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission answered recent questions Tuesday with letters delivered to individuals living both in and around town and how the potential annexation of the Spring Valley effect could affect them.
City Commissioner Cody Caldwell addressed comments he had seen on the internet in regards to recent information published about the potential annexation of Spring Valley.
“If you’ve ever been on the internet much, they always say don’t read the comments. It’s usually not a good idea,” said Caldwell. “Well I read some of the comments. They weren’t bad but just kind of showed there are a lot of misconceptions about county government versus city government and what the city is and its status…I just want to clear some of those things up.”
A quarter of a percent sales tax increase was approved in January by Gallia County Commissioners which took effect in April due to emergency concerns with the county general fund in regard to the opioid epidemic. Gallipolis City Commission only oversees the municipality of Gallipolis. County commissioners hold authority across the breadth of the county. Some issues in Gallipolis are overlapped by the legislation of the county, but the municipality of Gallipolis is also allowed to make its own ordinances which hold no tie to the rest of the county. As an example, one is not allowed to own variations of the pit bull breed under Gallipolis ordinances. The rest of the county is not subject to the law. Sales tax revenue goes to the county and the state. The city sees no sales tax revenue. However, everyone buying items under the sales tax law in Gallia County is subject to the sales tax increase. The city does, however, have a one percent income tax it lays on individuals living in the city or those who work in the city. Those who receive retirement income or social security income are not subject to paying the income tax.
Gallipolis is called a city because its founding documents dubbed it as thus. According to population though, it is considered a village in the eyes of federal and state government. Gallipolis being called ‘“the city” because it serves as the county seat of government has also become somewhat of a local saying.
“I would encourage people to contact us and let us know their concerns that way we can adapt ordinances to maybe help accommodate things,” said Commissioner Beau Sang. “I know various towns throughout the state that have multiple different zones. We could have a residential zone one or a residential zone two, a commercial zone one. We can do that, I think, obviously with a variety of us here to figure that out. These are the things we need to know before we go out and say here’s what we’re going to do and this is the way it’s going to be. We want to work with the people and show them there are benefits to (being annexed)…You should come to us with your concerns.”
Sang said there was a potential for holding public town hall and forum meetings to discuss and answer questions for individuals with concerns.
According to City Manager Gene Greene, Gallipolis water access extends out as far as Mitchell Road in connection with Jackson Pike and properties there may be considered for annexation. Individuals receiving letters referencing annexation may not all be on the list for potential annexation but are being informed that nearby areas are being considered for the action. Greene emphasized the only area being considered for annexation was the Spring Valley area. Much of what is informally called Spring Valley by area residents is recognized as the shopping plazas, businesses, organizations and homes along Jackson Pike and its connecting streets.
According to Sang, the reason the letter was sent to area residents was to make sure “they didn’t miss anyone” when informing them about the process. Those who will be considered for annexation will reportedly have a petition brought before them asking for signatures. From the day of the first signature on the petition, Gallipolis has six months to get 51 percent of property owners to sign it in favor of joining annexation.
“These are the types of questions we can discuss better in a forum,” said Sang.
”I think people think we are just after the dollar when in reality we are trying to make the dollar we’re already getting from them more flexible for the city,” said Sang in a brief electronic correspondence. “I am not sure a lot of people understand that money collected for water and sewage (legally) has to be used within those enterprises.”
Money put into the city general fund allows the city to utilize it in other departments. Money collected by the city sewer and water departments can only be used for sewer and water concerns regarding the city and its customers.
On a flyer the city has been mailing out, benefits it lists to join the city say it will not cost anything to those receiving retirement, social security or disability income. It ensures coverage of emergency services and is critical to maintain the infrastructure of Gallipolis, says the flier. Residents and businesses within city limits will reportedly pay roughly 80 percent less for water and sewer services. They also have access to trash pickup, street cleaning and leaf and snow removal services. Being a part of Gallipolis also grants one the opportunity to hold an office as a city commissioner if elected.
Costs to joining Gallipolis include paying a one percent income tax. Residents in certain townships may pay additional property taxes and an annual permissive license tax of $20 per vehicle which goes to maintaining city roads and repair.
The flier claims area residents outside city limits are paying $5 to $10 more on trash pickup per month. Natural gas and electricity aggregation plans within Gallipolis reportedly save residents around $24 a month. Estimates are made on a predicted number of individuals making around $50,000 a year which was reportedly derived from median wage estimates in the county. City information claims that individuals living within newly annexed city limits can save between roughly $20 to $70 a year, whether they live in Green, Gallipolis or Springfield Townships with those figures being based upon additional income and property taxes but offset by savings in utilities.
Overall, citizens are encouraged to call or email Gallipolis officials with their questions as individual situations can differ. For more information, visit www.cityofgallipolis.com.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.