Brady Lake residents clash with leaders over community’s future

Anna Huntsman

Brady Lake is a beautiful sight in Portage County, but the journey to get there is not as pretty.

The roads are covered in potholes deep enough to stand in, and yard signs urge residents “It’s Time (to) Let It Go.” 

With rising debt and disappearing services such as road repair, Brady Lake residents seriously consider what their options are for the future of the village.

Brady Lake residents clash at village hall meeting from on Vimeo.

Residents packed the village hall last night and clashed with village leaders over the community’s future.

“Love the area. The area’s great. It’s just the government’s not so great right now,” said resident Jason Rothaermal. “We’re kind of hurting.”

Rothaermal is not just talking about the risky roads.

“We’re in debt way over our heads. We’ve got outstanding debt that takes up a third of all our income every year. And now we’re going even further into debt. The government’s asking us for more and more money and less and less services come with it every year.

To help with these financial hardships, the state approved a $250,000 loan to fix the roads.

But village leaders do not know the interest rate on this loan yet. This concerned Rothaermal and other residents. The discussion became heated until Hal Lehman called the room back to order.

Later, residents also questioned how the village will pay back that loan, but clerk Ethel Nemeth said previously passed levies will take care of it.

“How are we going to pay for it?” she read from a list of questions residents gave her. “Well, you passed a levy!”

Even still, Rothaermal said paving the roads will not lead to success in the long run.

“We’ll put another levy through, and then we’ll put another tax, but we never have additional money in the coffers which means if we ever have a catastrophe, we’re done. We’re sunk again. So there’s no way to keep this sustainable in the long run.”

That is why he and others want to disincorporate the village and join neighboring Franklin Township.

“We’ll have to pay for the debts we’ve already incurred, but that will be over a short period of time,” Rothaermal said. “Then we’ll go into the general tax rates of Franklin Township, which is already 62 percent less than our property taxes then what Brady Lake charges. Plus, they don’t have the 1 percent personal income tax.”

Brady Lake currently has the highest tax rate in Portage County, though it is only home to 464 people.

Dissolving the village was on the ballot three years ago, but did not pass. Rothaermal thinks there is more awareness and support this time around.

“Last time around there were a lot of speculations put out there by the local government, around re-zoning of the area, the loss of the lake privileges, other things they couldn’t substantiate,” he said. “This time around, people are starting to understand the taxes are too high, they’re losing services.”

Mayor Hal Lehman was not available for comment after the meeting. TV2 reached out to him today but he did not return the calls.

With the election less than a month away, this was one of the last council meetings the village will hold before voters decide the fate of their community.

Anna Huntsman is TV2 reporter, contact her at [email protected].