Without even consulting the public, a village council decided to raise income taxes simply because they can. However, once the citizens discovered the local government’s sneaky move, the whole town came together and drove out the corrupt politicians.
The citizens of Amelia, Ohio, were stunned to find out that their village council had convened in secret to pass a one-percent income tax increase through an “emergency” ordinance. Within the next few months, concerned residents would also discover that the council had signed off on hundreds of thousands of dollars in suspicious purchases, including lavish Victorian-style furniture, expensive chandeliers, and antique bookcases for their offices.
Understandably indignant, citizens rallied together and filled out a petition to disband the village as a means of legally dissolving the local government, dividing Amelia into two townships. Unfortunately, residents would soon find themselves battling an underhanded government that would stop at nothing to thwart their rights.
As angry citizens handed their petitions directly to council members, they were promptly returned so that the council could pass a hasty measure in an attempt to block the dissolution from happening. The council unanimously passed a last-second ordinance requiring signatures from 30 percent of the voters who participated in the last election and approval from two-thirds of their own members.
“We just made our laws a little tougher to protect the citizens instead of them being able to roll over,” a council member said.
The council had a citizen arrested and escorted out of the meeting for simply voicing how corrupt it was that they would pass legislation to protect their own interests, The New York Times reports. However, despite passing what they thought was a foolproof way to keep their jobs, the council members underestimated the power of the people.
After a lengthy and bitter campaign that the council attempted to stifle at every turn, the citizens of Amelia have officially dissolved their government, putting every last one of their corrupt politicians out of a job. The vote to dismantle their village council took place almost immediately.
“That’s just too many layers of fat,” said Ed McCoy, 53, a salesman who drove around town with an “ax the tax” sign plastered prominently on his sedan and led a group in favor of dissolving the village. “The best way to get rid of that fat,” he said, “is to start at the bottom.”
Former Mayor Todd Hart was dismayed by the people’s decision to dissolve the council. He and his colleagues blasted the move as an extreme response to the tax hike and accusations of frivolous spending of taxpayer money.
“This all got way out of hand,” said Todd Hart, the one-time mayor of Amelia, who lost his bid for re-election on the same night the village disbanded. “If you don’t like what your government is doing, just vote them out,” he said in an interview. “That’s democracy. That’s why we live in America. Don’t destroy your town.”
Despite Hart’s claim that the move will “destroy” the town, Amelia is just one of 14 towns in the state that have recently dissolved their own governments to become “unincorporated.” In these areas, no municipal government below the county level exists.
In unincorporated townships, services such as police, firefighters, emergency responders, garbage disposal, and road maintenance aren’t provided by local governments. However, that hasn’t stopped citizens from doing for themselves what government officials reference in order to keep voters from dissolving their institution. In fact, these services are soon provided either privately or on a voluntary basis.
As disturbing as it is to see public servants serving their own self-interest, it’s even more refreshing to watch the checks and balances in action. It is for reasons exactly like this that our Forefathers instilled a failsafe for the people in case their government became too corrupt, as governments tend to do.
The citizens of the area formerly known as Amelia proved that the government must fear the people and not the other way around. Despite elected officials legislating their own interests and attempting to stop citizens from invoking their rights, the people have taken back power.