By Cody Willoughby
WEST MILTON — The West Milton City Council conducted a special meeting on Tuesday night to hold a public hearing for a New Community Authority.
The main item on the night’s docket was to approve the appointment of trustees to the board of supervision of Stillwater Crossing, a 100-acre mixed-use tract development.
“The board of trustees of the New Community Authority shall appoint seven members,” mayor Scott Fogle said. “Each member posts a bond in the amount of $10,000 in the performance of his or her duties. The council is entitled to appoint three citizens and four officials as members.”
Four appointees were approved for the board, which included mayor Scott Fogle, municipal manager Matthew Kline, councilman Tony Hughes, and councilwoman Vicky Blige. Appointees may eventually be replaced by residents of the development as the population grows.
Caleb Bell, public finance attorney from Bricker & Eckler, led the hearing, presentation, and discussion.
“You might think of this like a homeowner’s association,” Bell said. “It’s like in a development when the developer runs the assocation until build-out, and then they turn it over to the residents. This is a similar process. It’s just statutorily driven.”
Councilman Jason Tinnerman was the first to pose questions. “Can you explain more about the bond of $10,000 for each member?” Tinnerman inquired. “What is it for?”
“The public official bond is much like a bond for a fiscal officer,” Bell explained. “It’s a statutory requirement. The NCA has a responsibility of collecting and moving money, and the bond is essentially an insurance policy. The premiums are not significant. They generally run about $1,200 a year for an entire board.”
“Is it something that helps them?” Tinnerman asked.
“No,” Bell said. “It’s a requirement that they post the bond, but it’s really in place to protect the public interest if an official were to do something incorrect in the course of their duties. Should that happen, the bond would then be activated.”
Discussion then turned toward the purpose of the trustees themselves, and the jurisidiction they’ll have within the West Milton community.
“The purpose of creating a New Community Authority is to provide a mechanism that collects a property tax assessment from properties within the development,” Bell explained. “Property tax abatements are already in place that negate the need for new abatements. The new authority is putting that tax back on as a way to pay for the infrastructure associated with development. It’s almost like rewriting the property taxation system.”
Bell was then asked to clarify the measures of the new trustees’ authority, and whether it expanded beyond the development of Stillwater Crossing.
“No power of this board will reach beyond the ground its covering,” Bell confirmed. “It’s very important to understand that. The board also has this village council to go through, so checks and balances are in place to assure that government and public representatives are the ones who survey the authority over West Milton proper.”
Stillwater Crossing is to be located south of the Stillwater Golf Course on State Route 571 and Iddings Road. The development will tentatively include a Randall House assisted-living facility and senior cottages, restaurants, professional and commercial spaces, and over a hundred single-family homes. A medical facility is also being considered.
The council also discussed the ongoing progress of construction on the north water tower, approving the placement of the village logo on the water tower, estimated at several thousand dollars less than expected. The water tower project is on schedule to be completed by year’s end.