Smithfield should move forward
To the editor:
For many Smithfield residents, the dissolution of the village is about past deficiencies and grievances, not about what can be accomplished to improve the community in the future. Smithfield loses much more than its incorporated status if the dissolution is approved by voters on Nov. 5. While the 1 percent RITA tax and other special and operating levies will cease, so will all of the village services these revenues fund: Street lighting, safety forces, cemetery maintenance and recreational programs. Being assimilated into Smithfield Township does not guarantee a continuation of any or all of these services, nor does it assume new taxes or assessments voted upon by all township residents will only be used for the lost village services. Above all else, self-governance will be lost. And of particular note, dissolution of the village also might result in the loss of the local post office.
The village has no debt, a balanced budget and a revenue stream just beginning from oil and gas royalties, which royalties could be prioritized to address long-neglected village projects. However, if dissolved, the village assets would be assigned to the township to use as it deems appropriate.
The next budgetary year for the village provides an opportunity for a fresh start. With new financial resources, a new community engagement spirit and a sense of common purpose, the village can establish a plan for the future. Our village has a troubled past, but working together for future community betterment can happen. Many present and former village residents have taken active roles in the Friends of Smithfield, a nonprofit community and economic development organization working to re-establish a thriving village. Any opportunity to advance and broaden the commitment of this organization will be lost if the village ceases to exist.
The village has a storied 225-year history, including the oldest recorded Society of Friends meeting in Ohio, who settled in the village in 1792, 11 years before Ohio became a state, and whose pacifist credo established a stop on the Underground Railroad, both facts which are recognized by the Ohio Historical Society. This legacy should be cherished, not cast away over past grievances The dissolution of the village would be permanent. Let’s not let that happen.
Secretary, Friends of