Fayette council discusses rates 7.15.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette village council members discussed water and sewer rates again Thursday night, but offered no resolution to bring the utilities fund out of debt.

Audience member Wayne Williams told council members that the water system should not operate in the red. He acknowledged the tough economic times, but said that’s often used as an excuse to avoid increasing fees.

“It’s a moderate increase that everyone can live with,” Williams said.

For a customer using 7,000 gallons of water a quarter, the proposed nine percent increase would cost $28.48 a year.

Williams said he’s troubled by people saying that water should be free. He worked for the village water department many years ago and is aware of the costs involved.

Acting mayor Craig Rower responded that many people have a misconception about what the proposed nine percent rate increase would cover.

“It’s to pay the bills, point blank,” Rower said.

The funds were to be used only for the operation of the water and sewer system, Rower explained later, and not to generate a surplus for future needs. At nine percent, however, a surplus would have been realized.

“We do agree there should be an increase. We haven’t agreed on what that percentage should be.”

He said he’s working on a plan for a three percent increase which he claims would keep the fund in the black starting in 2010.

Council voted 4-3 at the June 11 meeting against a one-time nine percent increase in rates.

The operating fund went into debt in 2008 and money from the maintenance and replacement fund was needed to cover the shortfall.

The nine percent increase would have put the fund into the black through 2010, but projections show the replacement fund running dry by 2013 without an additional increase.

Williams said that if the water department continues to lose money, eventually it will bleed funds from other departments.

Council member Jerry Gonzales said he doesn’t think it’s reasonable to create a surplus of money in the utility fund with the tough economic conditions.

Council member Paul Shaffer said the rates should be increased enough to pay the bills, with a little extra for emergencies.

What if you pay the bills but then have an expensive problem to fix, Williams wondered.

“Council should have put a surcharge on years ago,” Shaffer said. “To sit here and put all the blame on this council isn’t fair.”

Rates were last increased in April 2005.

For any business, Williams said, preparations should be made for when times aren’t so good.

“I and several council members do not feel like now is the appropriate time to ask for that much of an increase, just so that the village would gain a surplus in those funds,” Rower said later.

When the economy improves, he thinks voters should decide if they want to increase rates more to build a surplus for maintenance and replacement.

Village administrator Amy Metz explained later that a nine percent increase would have covered last year’s debt and added to the replacement fund, if it had been imposed at the start of the year.

A decision to increase rates now would bring in new revenue only for the final quarter of the year and would no longer cover the shortfall from 2008 and 2009.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • 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).
  • 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.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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017