Fayette village council 6.17.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It took a vote by acting mayor Craig Rower to break a tie Thursday night at the Fayette council meeting.

Rower cast a “no” vote against a proposed nine percent increase in the village water and sewer fees and so, for now, the utility will continue to operate in the red.

Following a lengthy discussion of the issue, Jerry Gonzales, Paul Shaffer and Mike Maginn voted against the increase. Julia Ruger, Ruth Marlatt and Ken Delphous supported the rate hike.

The village utility fund first went into the red in 2008 and money had to be taken from the enhancement fund—designated for maintenance and replacement costs.

The nine percent increase proposed for this year only would have provided a temporary fix by keeping the utility out of the red through 2010. Without any subsequent increase, projections show the cash reserves in the enhancement fund also running out of money by 2013, assuming an annual three percent increase for inflation.

At the June 8 Finance Committee meeting, Gonzales suggested a three percent increase for 2009—a move that would cover costs for the current year—but that option was not mentioned Thursday.

Fayette resident Denise Jensen said a survey she and her husband, Joe, undertook shows strong opposition to any increase.

Jensen said she asked 50 residents to give a “yes” or “no” vote on the statement, “I agree with the Fayette village council to raise my water and sewer rates by nine percent.” Only one person voted “yes.”

“They feel the water rates are already too high,” Jensen said. “They’re just trying to make ends meet. They don’t need a rate increase, they don’t need higher taxes.”

She said many people were unaware of the proposed increase because they don’t read the newspaper.

Village administrator Amy Metz presented councilors with a list of water rates from area communities compiled by the Village of Swanton. The average cost for 6,000 gallons of water is $67.01. Fayette appears in the middle of the list and a little below average at $65.72.

Councilor Mike Maginn suggested that the cost of water is high because the Ohio EPA forces the village to clean it.

Utilities supervisor Bob Seigneur mentioned that softening also adds to the cost.

The actual softening process isn’t so expensive, Metz said, but the softening unit costs in excess of $100,000. She mentioned the cost of repairing numerous breaks in the water lines, with some pipes dating back to 1907. Most everything under the ground is old and needs to be replaced, she said.

Metz asked the guests if they had any suggestions since other cuts in spending have already been made.

Joe Jensen asked if elected officials had been contacted—Gonzales said they had—and he later suggested a village sales tax of one percent. This would spread the cost around, he said, by bringing in extra money from people who shopped while passing through town.

Maginn didn’t think a sales tax would be good for local businesses who are already competing against out-of-town “big box” stores.

Gonzales said the water and sewer fund needs to pay for itself.

“I agree with you that people can’t afford it, but we need to break even,” he said. “I don’t think it’s time to ask for a surplus, but it’s got to break even.”

Audience member Rodney Kessler said  he agrees that times are tough, but he believes it’s in the best interest of the community to pass the measure.

Delphous moved to increase the fees, but the proposal failed.

GRANTS—Metz told council the village failed to receive CDBG funds for the West Industrial Parkway Project and for street repairs. She will inquire about why funding was not awarded.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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