An obscure state law is pushing Worthington to make a quick decision on the proposed annexation of the village of Riverlea.

An obscure state law is pushing Worthington to make a quick decision on the proposed annexation of the village of Riverlea.

Worthington City Council will hold a special meeting April 10 - a Sunday - to meet the deadline set by the law governing annexations. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., when council will decide to either reject an overture by a group of Riverlea residents to annex into the city or appoint three commissioners to work with three from Riverlea to negotiate terms of an annexation.

The six-member commission then would have 120 days to come to an agreement, the details of which probably would go on the ballot to be decided by the voters of Worthington and Riverlea.

If the six cannot agree, a probate judge would appoint a seventh member to cast the deciding vote, but the seventh member would not live in Worthington or Riverlea.

Council members said they were feeling rushed by a state law that requires them to pass an ordinance entering into negotiations within 30 days of receiving a certified ordinance from Riverlea, declaring its intent to enter into annexation negotiations. Worthington received the letter March 11.

With spring vacations slated for many Worthington council members, the only date when all could be present is April 10.

City law director Mike Minister said he could not see how other communities handled the requirements of the law for one simple reason: He could find no other instances of the 1953-approved law being used.

"I'm sure there must be one, but we can't find it," he said.

Council member Robert Schmidt said during the meeting that before he votes to move forward, he wants a better understanding of the motives of those who want Riverlea to become part of Worthington.

Riverlea resident Duncan Aukland said he has talked to residents of the village, and most want the alternative to be explored.

Some council members said they might prefer to reject the ordinance and instead move forward with more casual talks between representatives of Worthington and Riverlea. If an agreement then could be reached, the official channels could be followed, they said.

Aukland said he would prefer the city say, "We're going to look at it," rather than simply reject it.

Riverlea is a village of 545 residents and 236 housing units west of North High Street and south of West Riverglen. It is surrounded by Worthington on three sides and the Olentangy River on the west side.

A preliminary report presented March 21 by assistant city manager Robyn Stewart shows the cost for Worthington to serve Riverlea would be higher than any financial remuneration the city would receive.

New expenses to the city would be $310,070 to $610,070 a year and would include street, curb and gutter repair and replacement ($200,000-$500,000); solid-waste collection ($46,605); sanitary sewer repair and replacement ($32,350); service department maintenance ($28,615); and parks maintenance ($2,500).

The city currently receives payment from the village - directly and indirectly - to provide police and fire protection. If Riverlea were absorbed, the city would lose $35,000 a year it receives for fire protection and $60,770 for police protection.

Worthington would receive $117,000 in property taxes; $36,800 in estate tax; $20,000 in state highway and street maintenance; $9,020 in license tax; $4,248 in water and surcharge; and $2,250 in building permits.

cbrooks@thisweeknews.com

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