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Brady Lake still a village ... for now

Village won't technically dissolve until Ohio official signs off

By MATTHEW MERCHANT Staff Writer Published: July 9, 2017 4:00 AM
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Brady Lake Village is still a village.

In fact, Brady Lake is still both a village and a township.

That is, until Tuesday morning when the Portage County Board of Commissioners will vote to dissolve Brady Lake Township and then annex the village land.

Brady Lake Township was formed in 1993 after a lawsuit found that the original village, formed in the late 1920s, never officially annexed the land from Franklin Township. Thus, county commissioners had to form a township, with residents voting to reform the village in congruence with the township boundaries.

The future of Lake Brady itself, however, is a different story. A separate property deed from village land, the lake will have to be annexed separately because it was deeded to the original village and not the township.

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That point of history has been debated by residents and local officials since village residents voted to dissolve the village in May. Would the village and lake become part of Franklin County immediately?

What about taxes and emergency services? Who handles those?

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said the municipality is still legally operational as a village. And County Auditor Janet Esposito said taxes are still being collected through her office, as are debts and salaries, and that paid village employees could still be paid.

"The village still exists until the Ohio Secretary of State signs off on the paperwork, which is expected to be signed on Tuesday," Vigluicci said.

Esposito is working in coordination with the auditor of state and a local solicitor to settle the finances of the village. Despite the vote, Esposito said, there's still money flowing in and out through taxes and salaries.

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Esposito said she has been dealing with village residents coming to her office asking about why they are still getting a tax bill from the village even after they voted to dissolve.

"Things don't just happen overnight. It's a process that takes time," she said. "By law, I've got taxes coming in from the citizens of Brady Lake for Brady Lake. And debt coming in from the taxpayers for Brady Lake. I have to send it to Brady Lake until that's all closed off and turned over with a decision."

On Tuesday, county commissioners will vote to dissolve the township. At that point, they will have to authorize the annexation of the land to Franklin Township.

The deed to Lake Brady will not transfer automatically, however. According to original documentation, the county would be eligible to purchase the deed. However, county commissioners said last month they were not interested in owning the land.

Vigluicci said he wasn't sure if Franklin Township officials were interested in having the lake deeded back to the township, but that likely the land will be transferred to it. Franklin Township trustees could not be reached for comment.

"The property owners around the lake could form an association of sorts to purchase the land," said Vigluicci, noting a third possibility.

Some residents of the village have also expressed concern over whether the village police department has the legal authority to continue ticketing drivers.

"That department ceased operations weeks ago," said Vigluicci, adding that it is unclear as to whose jurisdiction the village is currently under because the 23 Brady Lake police officers are no longer being paid to enforce the laws in the area.

The prosecutor's office is having trouble handling those citations that were issued before the department closed, he said. While the officers took jobs in other departments or moved from the area, the citations still exist.

"When it comes time to prosecute those citations, we have to find those officers and bring them to court to testify on the citations they issued when they were in uniform," Vigluicci said.


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