2007-07-14 / News

Thornville, county reach deal

By Scott Rawdon

THORNVILLE- After two years of controversy and countless meetings, Thornville Village Council unanimously approved water and sewer contracts with the Perry County Commissioners Monday night quietly and quickly. Council member Dick Krumlauf abstained from a vote, citing a "conflictof interest."

The Perry County Commissioners are sponsoring an officialcontract signing Friday, 11:45 a.m. at their New Lexington offices.

The water contract sets a rate of $2.75 per 1,000 gallons retroactive to Jan. 1. But, if the county exceeds an average daily usage of 125,000 gallons for 30 days, if the flowexceeds 125,000 for any 15 days within a month, or exceeds 3.75 million gallons per month, the village may restrict growth on the county's distribution system.

Under the expired water contract, Thornville received $2.05 per 1,000 gallons. Village Administrator Ron Koehler estimates it costs the village $1.08 per 1,000 gallons to process the water.

The sewer contract is more complex. The county will pay Thornville $50,000 annually and a monthly volume charge of $2.25 per 1,000 gallons of waste water treated. The county will pay Thornville $50,000 within 30 days of signing the contract, and each year afterward. That annual charge will increase by fivepercent compounded annually.

Thornville will service homes primarily along Honey Creek Road on Buckeye Lake's south bank. The county is currently building the collection system. Koehler expects Thornville will begin start getting about half the flow capacity in January, and reach full flownext summer.

The contract expires in 15 years, or when and if the combined flowfrom the county and village systems reach 80 percent of the Thornville sewer plant's capacity - whichever comes first. If the combined flowreaches 80 percent of the plant's capacity, Thornville may stop the county from adding any new customers.

Also, the county will build a new lift station on Zion Road to replace an existing Thornville lift station. Once it's built, Thornville will take over the lift station.

Perry County Commissioner Lonnie Wood said the county will work very closely with Thornville and "take nothing for granted." He agreed with Koehler that the system should be fully operational by June or July 2008.

The dilemma of providing sewer to the portion of Buckeye Lake's south bank in Perry County dates back to the 1970s, when the Ohio EPA offered to install a public system, but the then county commissioners rejected the proposal. After determining that some septic systems in the area were leaking into Buckeye Lake, the Ohio EPA placed a moratorium on additional construction in the area. Frustrated property owners haven't been able to build on lakeside lots for years.

"It's been 20 years for some of these people and they're ecstatic," said Jim Thompson, president of the Honey Creek Homeowners Association. He thanked everyone, on behalf of the association, who worked so hard to make it happen.

Thornville residents have suffered with high sewer bills since the village's new sewer plant was constructed; many residents believe it was too large for Thornville's approximately 400 customers.

Now with the county waste, the village, council member Kevin Howell said during a July 5 public meeting, must address excessive inflowand infiltration of storm water, or I & I, into Thornville's collection system. Howell said Thornville's original collection system was designed to accept storm water to help the system flowsmoothly. EPA regulations have since banned mixing storm water with sewage so the excess water must be eliminated. "It has to be fixed," said Koehler.

Once that's done, said Howell, residents should see lower bills. Howell added that Ohio EPA is also increasing staffing requirements. Income from Perry County will help to pay for the new employee.

In other Thornville news, Mayor Beth Patrick said Krumlauf and residents Gene Raab, Patricia Reinhart, and Dwaine Howell will makeup a new village tree committee. The committee will try to get grant funding to replace some of the village's trees and determine which trees should be replaced. The group will also take steps for Thornville to earn a Tree City USA status. According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, there are four requirements to become a Tree City USA:

• A municipality must have a tree committee.

• A municipality must have a local tree ordinance and an annual work and action plan.

• A municipality must spend at least $2 per capita on trees. • A municipality must promote Arbor Day.

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