Voters Dissolve Amelia, Ohio Over One Percent Income Tax

Dec. 9, 2019
Bob Adelmann

The sign welcoming visitors to Amelia, Ohio used to say "Welcome to Amelia, Ohio, where Vision Becomes Reality – Todd Hart, Mayor." The sign is gone, along with the Mayor, members of the village council, seven police officers, and numerous government employees. The parking lot at the newly refurbished manse – which cost several hundred thousand dollars and included chandeliers, a fancy brass lion front door knocker, and a gazebo – is all but empty. And the new reality is, after having been incorporated in 1900, Amelia no longer exists.

Its citizens are now being served by the townships of Pierce and Batavia, located in the suburbs east of Cincinnati.

The unravelling of the village began when the council decided to refurbish an existing building, turning it into a Victorian showplace at taxpayer expense. It continued as taxes at many levels continued to escalate. According to the Tax Foundation, the average couple living in Amelia was paying $1,400 a year in state income tax, $780 in state sales tax, $130 in local sales tax, and $3,300 in property taxes.

The unravelling was complete when the village council enacted a one percent income tax last summer without informing the citizens, many of whom learned about it through the mail. The council passed the measure without the three-day public comment period.

For Ed McCoy, a local salesman, this was the final straw: "That's just too many layers of fat. The best way to get rid of that fat is to start at the bottom."

In early November, the measure to dissolve was passed 68 percent to 32 percent and became effective on November 25 after the election results were certified.

For Todd Hart, it meant the sudden end to his position as Mayor. He complained, "This all got way out of hand."

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The 5,000 folks who used to live in Amelia, Ohio apparently take their Declaration of Independence seriously: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of [its obligation to protect the rights of its citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."

The New York Times said the fight to dissolve, which has been going on for some time among citizens in Amelia, "shows what can happen when polarized voters decide that their government is so broken that it simply shouldn't exist." William Howell, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, sees it this way: "That you would have this kind of violent reaction against the introduction of a 1 percent tax suggests a deep-seated aversion to government generally." But such analysis goes wide of the mark. The camel's back is broken not only by the last straw, but also by the many that precede it. And the reaction was not violent. It was systematic, orderly, and peaceful. In other words, it was well governed. Perhaps the citizens of Amelia had a problem not with government, but with governmental malfeasance.

Although the dissolution of Amelia is just one of an estimated 130 such dissolutions between 2000 and 2011, it is the first generated by governmental dissatisfaction. The others reflected sharp declines in population or annexing by nearby cities.

The spirit of freedom from government overreach is one of the unique foundations of the American republic that remain in place today, at least among the former citizens of Amelia, Ohio.



Amelia, Ohio's welcome sign

Western Journal: Citizens Literally Disband Town To Get Relief from Oppressive Taxes

Fox News: Ohio residents vote to dissolve 119-year-old community after local government's secret tax increase

The New York Times: They Wanted to Save Their 119-Year-Old Village. So They Got Rid of It. The Village of Amelia is officially no more

The Blaze: Ohio town votes to dissolve local government over unwanted income tax: 'Endless stupidity and reckless spending'

History of Amelia, Ohio

WLWT.comAmelia voted itself out of existence: Now what?

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