Fayette water/sewer rates discussed at hearing 6.3.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

If Thursday’s hearing on water and sewer rates is any indication, look for a spilt vote June 11 when village council members are scheduled to vote on increasing rates.

Councilors and audience members alike expressed views on both sides of the issue.

Some likened the proposed nine percent increase to the cost of a dinner out. Others said residents can’t afford any increase in fees and blamed the village’s problems on having to meet the demands of the Ohio EPA.

Village administrator Amy Metz started the hearing by explaining the shortfall in revenue needed to operate the water distribution and sewage treatment systems.

Revenue fell by $13,500 in 2008 due to vacant homes and a slowdown in industrial activity, Metz said, but trouble was already on the way before that.

Expenses exceeded revenue by $2,742 in 2008, but even if revenue rebounded to previous levels, costs would outpace revenue in 2011. By 2013, all of the cash reserves from the debt service fund would be gone and the fund would be in the red.

This projection includes the current proposal—a nine percent increase in rates for 2009 only. Projections with continuing increases would put the fund in the black.

With the nine percent increase in 2009, Metz said a typical user (7,000 gallons of water usage each quarter) would see a quarterly increase in fees of $7.12, or $28.48 a year.

Metz also read a document prepared by the village utilities engineer, Bob Seigneur, stating several consequences of the failure to increase rates.

Seigneur wrote that the village would have no long term control plan to alleviate sewage overflows to submit to the Ohio EPA, nor would it be able to accept federal funding for sewer projects.

Seigneur said the village could abandon its treatment system and construct a pipeline to Archbold or to a centrally located facility, but he doesn’t favor giving up control of the process. He believes the village would still face considerable costs in maintaining its own storm water system.

“I’m really torn about this,” said council member Jerry Gonzales. “I’m against [the increase]. I don’t think we can afford it.”

On the other hand, he said, there’s a push for small communities to tie in with regional systems and then the local representation is lost.

“That’s why we need to increase our rates now,” village employee Tom Rupp said, to avoid losing local control.

If the village can’t afford to take care of what it has now, he said, it won’t be able to provide water and sewer services.

Rupp suggested that people need to set priorities, such as going out for dinner less often to pay for the increase.

Denise Jensen said that with bad economic conditions, increasing the rates is the last thing council should be discussing.

Another audience member suggested that increasing rates will drive people out of town, but police chief Jason Simon asked where they would go to find rates cheaper than Fayette’s.

Metz said the village would be eligible to receive $4 million in loans and $2 million in grants from federal stimulus funds, but she noted the competition is stiff with so many communities needing help with projects.

Simon said the village wouldn’t receive funding because the Ohio EPA hasn’t approved Fayette’s long term plans.

“When will the EPA approve the plans that we submitted?” asked acting mayor Craig Rower. “Will the paper print that?”

Former village administrator Tom Spiess said the plan calls for an initial project that was already in the works, then takes a break of about seven years. He’s guessing that the Ohio EPA might be concerned about the lapse.ng. She thinks the issue should be put on a ballot for the public to decide, and Gonzales agreed.

“We need to do something,” he said. “Maybe a three percent increase and then see how the economy goes.”

Councilor Ruth Marlatt said council can’t continue to let the water and sewer fund go in the red.

“How fiscally responsible do we look as a village?” she asked.

Gonzales urged audience members to let council know of any ideas they have to deal with the cash shortfall.

(Buy an on-line subscription for full article)
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016