BLANCHESTER — Local residents will decide whether to keep the Blanchester Board of Trustees of Public Affairs.
“People have the right to on an important decision,” said James Bowling of the Blanchester Board of Trustees of Public Affairs (BPA).
At a special June 27 meeting, Mayor John Carman and the Blanchester Village Council voted to abolish the BPA in a 4-2 vote, with members Chad Hollon and Reilly Hopkins voted against it.
Afterward, Bowling and the other members of the BPA filed a referendum to appear on the November ballot, giving residents a chance to decide. Bowling told the News Journal it would be a mistake to eliminate the BPA because it would give all the power to the mayor and council, and keeping them would ensure checks and balances.
“Another concern is, can we trust the mayor and council with BPA finances? There are lots of concerns if they’ll be responsible with those funds,” said Bowling. “What’s the plan?”
He expressed concern about whether or not the village would sell the water and sewer plant, multiple BPA staff members getting fired, and the losing of local control.
“We have to vote no so we don’t stop progress,” he said.
He said among the things they accomplished over the years include upgrading the sewer plant, installing LED street lights, building a one-million gallon water tank, installed underground electricity downtown, and replaced a majority of the water and sewer line in need of repair.
Mayor John Carman previously told the News Journal that none of the BPA employees would be fired and that the measure that passed was only to dissolve the elected positions — BPA trustees.
“People have a misconception about getting rid of the BPA. We’re not dissolving the utilities. We would only be losing the three board members,” said Carman.
The abolishment of the BPA would also allow them to establish a village qdministrator position which would oversee activities during the day when Carman isn’t available.
“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,” Carman told the News Journal earlier in the year.
The position would be filled by someone already an employee of the village. He also said that if the village reaches the population size of a city, they would have to abolish the board anyway.
“It allows us to move forward. We want to be proactive. We believe we’ll be a city,” he said.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574