The city of Worthington would do a complete financial-impact study before considering the annexation of the village of Riverlea.
The city would do a complete financial-impact study before considering the annexation of the village of Riverlea.
"I don't want to presume what that analysis would show," city manager Matt Greeson said on Monday.
He was reacting to a report that 130 Riverlea residents have signed a petition expressing interest in annexing the 224-home village to Worthington. That is more than enough to begin the annexation process, according to state law.
Riverlea is located on the west side of High Street, south of South Street. It is bordered by Worthington on three sides and the Olentangy River on the west.
It is governed by its own village council, which oversees services such as streets and trash collection. It contracts with Worthington for police protection.
A group of residents who would like to see the village dissolved reportedly circulated the petition. Greeson said he has not seen the petition, but has had informal discussions with Riverlea Mayor Mary Jo Cusack.
Both leaders said the next step in the process would be for the petitioners to request Riverlea council to appoint an annexation commission to approach Worthington.
Any decision would be up to Worthington City Council and would probably require an in-depth look at the costs and potential income that would result from an annexation.
"I think we would listen and engage in a thoughtful and objective analysis of the situation," Greeson said.
Riverlea residents currently pay 5 mills of property tax to the village. Worthington's municipal property tax is also 5 mills.
Riverlea has no income tax, meaning that Riverlea residents who work at home or in a municipality with less than a 2.5-percent income tax would pay more if the village is annexed.
Worthington would also have to take on the cost of needed improvements to Riverlea's infrastructure. Because of needed sewer and street improvements, those costs are expected to be between $3-million and $4-million, according to Cusack.
Some Riverlea residents also think that annexation might lead to a solution to a nagging problem in the village. A homeowner on the north side of the village recently stopped allowing children to use his property to cut through to Worthington, meaning school children have a longer way to walk to Evening Street Elementary School.
Cusack said she does not see how annexation would help.
Other residents would like to enjoy city resident advantages such as a lower cost for a pass to the Worthington community center.
Other residents are not happy with restrictions on building enforced by the village's building commission, Cusack said.
Those people might be surprised to find Worthington's planning and zoning regulations are even more restrictive than Riverlea's, she said.
Cusack does not support annexation, but said there is no animosity between the two entities.
"Riverlea has always been a nice, historic village, and I would like to keep it that way," she said. "I would also be happy to be a resident of Worthington."