2011-01-15 / News

Slow water sales pushing up water rates

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Lower sales than expected to the Village of Buckeye Lake are pushing up water and sewer rates for Millersport customers, Finance Committee Chair Chuck Mesko told council members Tuesday night.

Council members heard the first reading Tuesday night of an ordinance to increase water and sewer rates effective April 1. The final vote won’t be taken until March to give residents plenty of time to comment on the proposed increase.

The basic in-town rate for 3,000 gallons per month will increase from $18.65 to $23.65. The charge for each additional 1,000 gallons per month moves from $2.34 to $3.00. Rates for outof town customers - but not the Village of Buckeye Lake which is covered by a specific contract - will increase from $29.65 per month for the first 2,000 gallons to $36.65. Each additional 1,000 gallons per month goes from $3.00 to $4.50.

If the proposed rates are approved, an in-town customer using an average of 4,500 gallons per month will pay $28.15 per month compared to $47.90 per month for an out-of-town using the same amount of water.

Sewer rates are also increasing. The basic sewer rate for in-town customers will move from $22.44 per month for the first 2,000 gallons of water usage to $23.56 per month. Each additional 1,000 gallons used per month will increase from $7.40 to $7.77. Again out-of-town customers will be paying more. The basic rate goes from $25.41 per month to $26.68 per month. Each additional 1,000 gallons used per month moves from $7.62 to $8.00.

The combined water/sewer rate for an in-town customer using 4,500 gallons per month will be $71.14, up from $63.10; for an out-of-town customer the new rate will be $94.58 per month, up from $81.61.

The village is currently spending more on water than it is taking in, President Pro Tem Dave Levacy explained, which prompted the rate hike. Both water towers will need to be repainted in 2016, council member Shane Wise added. The cost is expected to be around $500,000 so the village needs to start putting aside money for that project now.

Council members also discussed reducing the losses on the operation of the pool. Expenditures last year were around $35,000 which have been pushed down in this year’s budget to about $29,000. Mayor’s Assistant Vince Popo said early purchase discounts for pool memberships will have to be dropped and the cost of memberships might go up. The pool has run up a $16,000 annual deficit for the last two years.

Fees for the village’s 40 boat tie-ups along the canal may go up to help offset the losses at the pool. Currently, the annual tieup fee is $250 for residents and $350 for non-residents. “$250 is such a bargain,” Levacy said. The village pays the $65 per dock state fee out of its fee. Council member Jim Wright suggested going one more year without a dock fee increase since the village just finished upgrading the docks last year.

Council members in general expressed reluctance to increase fees and rates, but acknowledged they can’t ignore the shortfall in water revenue and the continuing losses at the pool. They expect to make a final decision at their February 8 meeting on the dock and pool fees.

In other business Tuesday night, Police Chief John Shirk failed to make it back from Chicago in time for the meeting. He had picked up the department’s new cruiser from a Chicago area department. The 2009 Ford Crown Victoria has just 30,000 miles on it. The village was able to purchase it with insurance proceeds after the village’s best cruiser was totaled in a collision with a deer. Sgt. Mark Consolo said the department now has 21 officers on its roster with about one-third of them still completing training. Most of the officers have auxiliary status which means they donate their services to the community.

Council members unanimously approved an emergency ordinance authorizing changes to a loan agreement between the village and the Ohio Water Development Authority. The change increases the maximum loan amount from $261,009 to $286,000 to account for the required use of more expensive materials in the upgrade of the village’s waste water treatment plant.

During the reorganizational portion of the meeting, Levacy was reelected President Pro Tem which means he chairs council meetings when the mayor is absent.

Council committees are unchanged for 2011. They are:

• Rules: Charles Mesko, Chair; James Wright and Donna Thogmartin.

• Service: Wright, chair; Gary Matheny; and Thogmartin.

• Safety: Levacy, chair; Matheny and Shane Wise.

Finance: Mesko, chair; Levacy and Wise.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at the municipal building.

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