State declares Portage in financial emergency

By Justin Michaels - bio | email

PORTAGTE (WTOL) - Portage sits just south of Bowling Green in Wood County. Over the past few years, some bad financial decisions have left the village with a nearly $140,000 deficit.

As of Wednesday, April 8, Portage is getting some help from Columbus as it tries to get out of the red.

"The services in town are great. The streets get plowed in winter time. They clean the streets. They cut the grass," resident David Haas said. Those everyday services may be to blame for the village of portage experiencing the $136,000 deficit.

To correct the problem, the state auditor has declared Portage to be in a financial emergency. "A lot of times, they were taking money out of one place that belonged in another, and it wasn't because of any malfeasance. I just believe they didn't understand how to do it," Haas told us.

Haas owns a downtown garage and has been appointed to the village council. He says Portage is grateful the state is stepping in. "It is really good to get state help, and I believe it is mandated by the state that they have to step in."

Haas adds the village isn't just expecting handouts from the state though. He believes former councils left the village in this predicament, and the current council is working hard to fix this. "I know that the city council and the mayor are working on the problems as we speak. I know they've instituted a 1% income tax, and also they're looking into annexing north and south."

With the financial emergency, the auditors office will appoint a board of commissioners to work with the village to get their finances in line. "I believe that it's a good thing for everybody included because we wasn't to keep the services up for the citizens here, and we want Portage to continue to be a village," Haas said.

Now that Portage is officially in a financial emergency, the state has 45 days to appoint a commission to help create a plan to fix the financial trouble and create a balanced budget. Then the village has 120 days to submit that plan to the state for approval. So this process could run for several months to come.