Plain City, Richwood, Milford Center and Marysville are four very different Union County communities, but when their mayors get together to talk every three months, the hot topic is likely to be the same: money -- or the lack of it.
Both Plain City and Richwood are going to the ballot in November to ask residents for financial help. Plain City is asking voters to approve a quarter-percent income tax and Richwood is asking voters for a 3-mill operating levy for the village and a 2-mill levy for the village park.
"We lost local government money," Plain City Mayor Sandra Adkins said.
Richwood Mayor William Nibert said he understands that people don't like to pay taxes.
"I don't like to pay taxes. But you have to pay them," he said.
Adkins said Plain City has a 1-percent income tax but hasn't had a new levy in years. A request last November for a half-percent income tax to help increase revenue was rejected. As a result, the village cut a police officer position and six other staff positions.
"The levy is key for us getting some of our levels back up to where we're taking some of the burden off the staff," Adkins said. "We haven't determined how many but we have agreed that we would rehire that police officer's position and hopefully, one or two more positions."
The Plain City police department currently has seven officers to serve a population that has grown from 2,832 in 2000 to 4,225 in 2010. Adkins said that kind of growth has to be addressed, but the city doesn't have the money.
"We haven't paved a street in six years," he said.
Nibert said Richwood is in a similar situation.
"We haven't blacktopped anything for years but we use the chip and seal, which everybody hates, but it does the job," Nibert said.
Richwood also went to the ballot last November with a 4-mill levy, which was denied.
When Plain City and Richwood struggle to staff their police departments, it has a trickle-down effect, according to Marysville Mayor John Gore.
"Any loss of law enforcement in the county impacts the entire county," he said. "Obviously, reduction in force means more crime and less legwork that can be done. "Even though it's their levy, it has an impact on the entire county if it fails."
Adkins has been Plain City's mayor for 10 years. Nibert has served as mayor in Richwood for 23 years. Gore said that kind of experience has been invaluable to him in his two years in the mayor's office.
"One of these things these get-togethers have allowed us to do is to talk about issues just like this," said Gore. "I think we try to help each other out, if we can. At the end of the day, you got to be a good neighbor."