2012-03-31 / News

Sewer charges increasing in Baltimore

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE - It will cost more to flush effective April 1.

Village council members unanimously approved an emergency ordinance Monday night increasing the monthly user charge for sewer service. Council’s Service Committee, chaired by Jim Hochradel, has been looking at the wastewater treatment plant’s costs and revenues. “We now know what it costs to operate the plant,” Hochradel reported Monday.

The current monthly user charge will increase from $9.80 for the first 2,000 gallons or less per month to $16.80. The current rate of $4.90 for each 1,000 gallons in excess of 2,000 gallons per month moves to $8.40 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

In a separate ordinance, council members also unanimously clarified how monthly sewer service charges will be applied. “It established what a sewer service unit would be,” Hochradel said. “Each living unit is paying a minimum.”

For example, a single-family residence is “one residential unit” and will pay effective April 1 at least $16.80 per month for sewer service. A duplex, even if served by a single water tap and/or single sewer tap, is two “residential units,” with EACH unit paying at least the $16.80 per month minimum bill. A 40-unit apartment complex is 40 “residential units,” and again EACH unit would have to pay at least the minimum monthly bill.

It also applies to commercial units. For example, a commercial building with five separate suites will pay at least $16.80 per month per suite, even if it is served by a single water tap and/or single sewer tap.

The same concept - each residential and commercial unit pays the applicable service charges - will be extended to water service charges as well. Village Solicitor Jeffrey Feyko said it will require a specific ordinance to do so.

Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance regulating the discharge of fats, oils and grease into the village’s wastewater treatment system. Village Administrator Scott Brown suggested adopting a FOG (Fats, Oil and Grease) Ordinance last month in response to report that village workers are regularly having to remove accumulated grease from the south end pumping station. Council members won’t vote on the new measure until their April 23 meeting to give businesses a chance to comment on the new regulations.

The new rules appear to apply to any establishment that prepares or heats food using any method except microwaving. Specifically listed are restaurants, nursing homes, schools, grocery stores, churches and manufacturing plants. Existing facilities will NOT be grandfathered.

Applicable facilities will be required to have a grease trap that must be installed “outside the building upstream from the sanitary sewer service lateral connection.” Commercial dishwashers and disposals must be connected to grease traps. The design criteria sets a minimum capacity per grease trap of 1,000 gallons. Maintenance requirements in the ordinance mandate a complete pump out at least once every four months. Maintenance records must be submitted biannually to the village’s wastewater superintendent who will perform “periodic inspections.”

Car and truck washes plus garages, service stations and maintenance facilities will sources of sand, soil and oil must “install effective sand, soil and oil traps, interceptors, and /or/oil/water separators. Violations of the proposed 5 1/2 page ordinance are fourth degree misdemeanors for the first offense. Subsequent violations are first degree misdemeanors.

In other business Monday night, council members unanimously rates and pre- season discounts for the swimming pool. The biggest change is offering a 10 percent discount for memberships purchased between April 1 and May 15. Membership rates - Baltimore resident/non-resident are: Single: $90/$150; Family (up to four users in the house hold) $ 200/$ 260; Additional User (in excess of four in same household): $20/$20; and Babysitter (with family membership): $20/$20. Full day daily rate: 3 and under - $3; 4-59 -$6; and 60 and over - $4. 5 p.m. to closing daily rate: 3 and under - $2; 4-59 - $4; and 60 and over - $3.

Mayor Robert Kalish hopes attendance is up this year. He noted that Pleasantville isn’t opening its pool this season and that Millersport might not open as well. Brown said he had been approached by the Schaffners about the possibility of operating the pool’s concession stand as they had done some time ago. They proposed renting the facility. Reaction was favorable with Brown noting, “It (the concession stand) is breakeven at best.” Feyko believes it should be put out for bids. Brown will work with Feyko to seek bids.

Brown’s report documented a very active start for the new village administrator. He said Ohio EPA is requiring the village to spend $50,000 annually to find and eliminate I & I (inflow and infiltration) into the sewer system. The most common tool to track I & I sources is smoke testing. Last year a contractor quoted $30,000 to smoke test the their system. This month, Brown reported, the village purchase a smoke generator for $1,500 and will do the testing using village employees. Ohio EPA will still credit the village for $30,000 spent on I & I.

Brown reported that it costs the village about $ 75,000 to dispose of sludge from he wastewater treatment plant. Currently, it is pressed into a cake and then landfilled. Brown and the utilities superintendent recently meet with representatives of Synagro to discuss lower cost options. The national firm specializes in finding solutions for waste challenges. Brown said several options were presented that could reduce costs by $35,000 to $40,000 a year. He plans to have a new sludge disposal plan - which requires Ohio EPA approval - in place in June.

Brown said the wastewater treatment plant spends about $100,000 a year for electricity. The village street superintendent recently met with a local electric contractor to discuss options to reduce usage. Switching to LED lights, adding some timers and some minor operational changes could cut the electric bill there by 10-20 percent, Brown said.

He is also looking at using LED lights in the village’s two traffic lights. Currently, each used about $70 per month in electricity. LED lights would use just about 10 percent as much. That savings would pay for the bulbs in about 18 months, providing about 3.5 years of “free” electricity based on their five-year warranty.

Baltimore’s Tree Commission presented their annual report to council. The group expects the village to receive its first ever designation as a Tree City at an April 18 ceremony in Dublin.

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