BLANCHESTER — The Blanchester Board of Public Affairs may soon be abolished.
After meeting for over an hour-and-a-half in executive session, Blanchester Village Council Thursday night held the first reading of an ordinance that would abolish the BPA office and establish the position of village administrator.
A previous attempt at this had been done when it was attached to an income tax measure on the November 2017 ballot. That issue was turned down by 65 percent of the voters.
Mayor John Carman told the News Journal this had been something he and council had talked about over time.
“Hopefully a village administrator will help develop better department relations, and help draw new business and growth to the community,” said Carman. “It’s a way to move it forward and the timing is right.”
BPA Chair James Bowling read a letter he sent to BPA employees expressing his shock at the ordinance on June 12.
“I share your surprise and disappointment. The Mayor and Council did not share their plans, ask for input from the trustees, nor allow us time to properly inform you, much to our chagrin,” Bowling said in the letter.
He also listed accomplishments they made, including a new one million gallon-capacity water plant and a $4 million upgrade to the sewer plant.
Carman told the News Journal he had met the BPA a week before about this measure and that none of the BPA employees — electric, water, etc. — would be fired. All would still be employed by the city, but the BPA trustees — elected positions — would be dissolved.
Carman added it would’ve been brought up sooner to them, but there were other things that needed to be resolved before bringing the ordinance to council.
Council scheduled two additional meetings on June 20 and June 27 to perform the second and third readings. Should it pass, afterward there would be a 30-day waiting period to see if a referendum is presented to put it on the November ballot. If no referendum is presented, the BPA wouldn’t dissolve until a village administrator is hired.
“Our hope would be people would focus on moving (the ordinance) forward, not fight it, and bow out gracefully … but I don’t know if that’ll happen,” said Carman.
The mayor emphasized that they didn’t take this move lightly and have talked about it for a while. He also said he believes it’s the best step forward for Blanchester.
“I’m a part-time mayor. I’m able to attend the meetings and handle things in the evening, but my conflicting schedule gets in the way and a village administrator would fill those gaps. They can help with grants and drawing in businesses. They can be the day-to-day person,” he said.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574