2012-10-20 / News

Thornville looking at water, sewer increase options

By Scott Rawdon

THORNVILLE – Village residents can expect an increase in water and sewer rates, most likely at the beginning of 2013, but the exact amount has yet to be determined.

Village Administrator Chad Wilkins said the increase may be determined during Monday’s council meeting. Mayor Gavin Renner said discussion started in 2011 when Thornville worked with Josh Eggleston, rural development specialist at the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program and, coincidentally, a former Thornville Village Administrator, to conduct a current state rate analysis and then make recommendations based on a few objectives.

Renner said one objective is to place the village in a better position to acquire grant money and loans for future maintenance and replacement projects. Another goal is to handle regular cost increases triggered by EPA requirements on staffing, testing, and chemical treatment.

Renner said RCAP presented its report early this year, listing four scenarios for changing rates. “Council has been discussing and is looking to finalize a plan with the assistance of RCAP to provide information that we and residents would be able to use to understand the impact of changes to their bottom line,” he said.

According to the report, the first recommendation is to charge for the initial 2,000 gallons of water and sewer usage, which is currently included in the $12 and $17.50 base charges for water and sewer respectively. Customers would continue to pay the base fees, but they would no longer include 2,000 gallons of water per month. The water charge would be extra.

The second scenario is a 30 percent across the board increase. The third is to retain the current rate structure and raise both the base and usage charges. The fourth scenario cuts the minimum usage to 1,000 gallons and adjusts the base and usage rates accordingly.

Currently, in-town water customers pay $12 per month for the first 2,000 gallons and $1.15 per additional 1,000 gallons. In-town sewer customers pay $17.50 for the first 2,000 gallons and $5 per 1,000 gallons additional. Sewer customers also pay $40 per month for an OWDA loan and a $3 storm sewer fee. The current minimum bill for water and sewer service is $72.50 per month.

Additionally, Renner said the village has several water and sewer projects. They include taking on a maintenance agreement for the water tower and an I&I project to reduce storm water infiltration into the sewer system. “Our village’s sewer system lines are aging,” said Renner. “Portions may need to be replaced as time goes on.” He said wastewater from some areas in the village must be pumped to the treatment plant. The pumps require regular maintenance.

“Our current rates cover costs for the here and now, but don’t position the village for future needs,” Renner said.

In other village news:

• Whoever stole several iron posts from the former Thornville Hardware Store has returned them. “The cast iron posts from the hardware store showed up in the alley behind the construction site,” said Renner. He said the village will stick to its “no questions asked” offer for their return and will not pursue theft charges.

“They were returned much in the same way they were removed, with no witnesses and no suspects,” said Renner. “I am grateful and pleasantly surprised that they came back. Given that they are heavy to move around, one of the columns was dug out of the debris for us, they were placed in a location convenient for us to retrieve and they are undamaged.”

Renner said he understands residents want to feel safe and secure. “I plan to continue to work with the police chief within our resource limitations to make sure we are providing adequate coverage for the village,” he said, Thornville currently has a full-time police chief and several auxiliary officers. “That puts us in a position of having to make smart choices about when officers are on patrol and where,” said Renner.

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