Buckeye Lake leaning toward Millersport
BUCKEYE LAKE- Buckeye Lake Village Council members agree that getting public water as quickly as possible is the highest priority. And, although council members decided nothing officially during a special meeting Friday afternoon, it appeared as though the council was leaning toward striking a deal with Millersport.
To review, council is weighing three options for public water-- buying bulk water from neighboring Millersport or Hebron, or creating a village operated system. Millersport has aggressively made offers to Buckeye Lake while Hebron has remained relatively silent. Information from M•E Companies - the engineering firmdesigning a water system for Buckeye Lake - shows that a village operated system could be more economical, but some council members are questioning how accurately a village operated plant's affordability can be predicted until it's known for certain how many village residents will tie onto a Buckeye Lake public water system. There are many other cost factors to consider as well.
Council member Drew Bourne said Friday that he prefers to purchase water initially, then build a village operated plant in the future - possibly 10 years.
Mayor Frank Foster said he thought a contract with Millersport would be for 30 years to help pay for Millersport's expanded water treatment plant. A contract with Hebron would be shorter term because Hebron anticipates growth and doesn't want to commit its extra capacity on a long term basis to Buckeye Lake. Foster warned that a shorter term commitment to Millersport may force Millersport to raise its rates for Buckeye Lake residents.
"Right now is not the right time to go with our own system," said council member Donna Thompson.
Foster said that whatever happens, he's in favor of assessing a base fee to everyone in the village, whether the resident ties onto the water line or not. "Everyone benefits by having that waterline in front of their house," he said. Even if a resident doesn't tie onto the line, he or she would enjoy improved fireprotection and increased property values just because the line is there, said Foster. If possible, he said he'd force everyone in the village to tie on. "Health-wise, if for nothing else. It's almost scary," he said, that some residents' tap water is brown from rust.
M•E Companies Vice President Kevin Wood said the village would have public water six months sooner by buying water from Millersport, as opposed to creating its own system. He estimated two years or less to install a distribution system, which is necessary no matter who supplies the water. Although the village wouldn't need to build its own plant if it made a deal with Millersport, it would need to purchase a master meter for $90,000 and a pump station for $250,000.
Millersport councilman Dave Levacy said Tuesday that Millersport would be ready for Buckeye Lake whenever it's ready to tie onto Milersport's water system, if that's what the Buckeye Lake council decides to do. "I don't think timing's an issue," he said. From his experience, he said he'd estimate a Buckeye Lake water treatment plant would cost closer to $4 million, as opposed to the $2.5 million projected cost from M•E Companies.
Running a water line to Hebron (which would include burying it beneath two rivers and I-70) would cost about $1 million.
Millersport proposed to collect $1,000 from each Buckeye Lake tap fee for the duration of the contract to help pay for facilities.
"I don't findthat to be unreasonable," said Foster. He expects Millersport would use that money to expand its water treatment plant to accommodate new development.
Bourne didn't like the 30 year contract with Millersport. He believes that's too long until Buckeye Lake Village could build its own treatment plant.
Realistically, said Foster, "Thirty years isn't that long in the life of a water system." He said he was interested to hear what Hebron has to say. Foster suggested sending Millersport's proposal to the Hebron Village Council and ask if Hebron can offer anything "significantlydifferent." Council members agreed and said they'd like a response from Hebron by the next council meeting, which is Nov. 12. If Buckeye Lake doesn't hear back from Millersport, or Hebron council members say they can't better the offer, Foster said he will talk to Millersport "very seriously."
Foster said Millersport increased what it proposes to charge the village to $3.15 per 1,000 gallons of water and the village would pay a $306,000 fee to connect to the Millersport water plant. This is up from $3 per 1,000 gallons and a $300,000 fee. Wood said the 15 cents increase would add about a $1 per month to residents' bills.
Council member Jeryne Peterson said that if the village decides to purchase water from Millersport, she'd like Millersport to guarantee a rate for the first two years of operation and not raise that rate.
Bourne and council member Jim Bartoe stated they prefer to purchase water for now, as opposed to building a village operated plant. "Our wellfield'snot going anywhere," said Bourne.
Foster said that in general he agrees, but he warned, "The engineers are telling us that it's cheaper to build our own." And, "residents have an expectation for us to look at our wellfield."He doesn't want that to "bite" the village in the future. But, "I'm all for moving ahead on this thing," said Foster. He added that Millersport can offer the village a 700,000 gallon limit, which is twice what the village currently needs. Millersport can supply Buckeye Lake's water needs at least 20 years into the future, said Foster.
Bartoe said it was his understanding that the will of council is to acquire public water as quickly as possible and to talk to Millersport. However, there was no officialaction taken to commit to Millersport or not to continue considering Hebron or a village operated plant.
Some residents, who were present at the meeting, are growing impatient. "I'd like water yesterday," said resident Rondia Sexton, who favors Millersport. She said her water is discolored and unsafe to drink. "Everything in my house is orange," she said. Sexton said she spends $65.01 per month to treat her well water and buy bottled water. "We will not approve any more levies or anything until there's water in the village," she said. "It's time to quit talking about it."
Resident Ray Sanders said he knows residents who are ready to move away from the village because there's no public water yet.
Resident Charlotte Basnett said she's heard about getting water in the village for 33 years. She thinks Hebron is playing hardball and isn't interested in working with the village. Basnett believes council has shown due diligence in exploring all alternatives but, "it's time to go," she said. She added she's headed south until May. By the time she gets back, she said, "You'd better be digging something!"