2007-08-11 / News

Kirkersville close to deal with district for public water

By Scott Rawdon

KIRKERSVILLE- Is a deal for public water between the Village of Kirkersville and the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District drawing near?

SWLCWSD General Manager Donald Rector is optimistic. "The district would like to see this move forward in a timely manner," he said. Currently, the district is negotiating with the village to provide public on a two phase plan, he said. The first phase would supply water to the SR 158 corridor, which includes the Flying J Truck Stop, Phantom Fireworks, Kirkersville Elementary School, and several parcels proposed for development. Rector said the businesses and developers would pay for the majority of the phase one infrastructure.

Phase two would service the village, he said, but phase two more or less on hold as the district works to findgrant money to subsidize village infrastructure construction.

Rector added that neither phase is under any deadline from the Environmental Protection Agency and, while he'd like to see a signed contract as soon as possible, there's no pressure from the EPA to do anything before everyone feels comfortable with the contract.

Village Engineer Gary Silcott, senior associate with R.D. Zande & Associates, Inc., agreed that a contract with Southwest Licking is "pretty close," and could be approved during a special council meeting this month. The contract, he said, would provide the village with a 200,000 gallon capacity, which is plenty of water, he said, to serve phases one and two. But, if the contract is approved, the village will only concentrate on phase one for the time being.

Village Clerk Johnny Adkins said there has been no survey conducted since the survey that showed the majority of village residents do not want public water. But, village officials continue to explore options to offer water village-wide (phase two) should the majority decide they want water after all. The survey conducted last year showed that only 43 percent of residents favored public water, but the results were not entirely clear. The survey stated that the village would count any survey not returned as a "yes," as motivation for people to return the surveys. Many were not returned. Village officials are pondering whether the people who didn't return the surveys are really in favor of water or simply never completed a survey.

Previously, the village proposed that the existing residents would pay a $1,400 tap fee to connect to a public water system and a $1,600 assessment, whether they connect or not, to cover the cost of building the water system. The average monthly bill is estimated at $32.75 for water. If a resident chooses not to connect he or she would still have a minimum bill of $12.70 to also help pay for the debt to install the water system.

In other village news:

• Mayor Bennie Evans said during the Aug. 1 village council meeting that everyone on council needs to work to pass a three mill replacement operating levy on the ballot in November. "We need to get busy on the levy," he said.

Adkins said the village's three mill operating levy was passed in the early 1980s and it expires at the end of this year. It's currently generating only $16,000. A renewed levy would generate about $27,000 per year. "The price of everything has gone up since 1980," said Adkins.

• Silcott suggested Aug. 1 that the village should poll residents to determine the village's median income. He's concerned that Kirkersville is no longer 51 percent low to moderate income, which is good for the residents, but bad for the village's ability to acquire many public grants.

Silcott proposed a survey asking residents to identify an income range, like $35,000 to $40,000, instead of divulging an exact number.

• Police Chief Robert Chamberlain said Aug. 1 that there is a marijuana problem in Kirkersville. "It's the drug of choice," he said.

Adkins said police are aware there is marijuana use in the village and there's "a trail of people" whom police are eyeing in an effort to "bust it up." Adkins said juvenile crime has been especially bad this summer. He said police are bringing troublesome juveniles' parents into the station to speak with them, which is helping to reduce instances of juvenile crime.

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