2013-07-27 / News

Residents to vote on lower electric rates

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE – Village council members unanimously agreed Monday night to place an electric aggregation issue before voters on Nov. 5.

Aggregation or grouping residential and small business electric customers is part of Ohio’s electric deregulation legislation. Municipal corporations, townships and counties can automatically aggregate residential and small business customers to collectively seek lower electric rates otherwise not available to individual customers.

If a majority of Baltimore voters approve the aggregation proposal, residential and small business customers will automatically be part of the program unless they “opt-out” during a 21-day period. Only customers of American Electric Power are eligible to participate. South Central customers can NOT participate. Eligible customers will continue to receive just one bill (from AEP).

If voters approve Nov. 5, all eligible AEP customers will be notified by mail of the program and given 21 days to opt-out. Customers leaving the program after 21 days may have to pay a $25 exit fee.

Neither the resolution approved Monday night to place the issue on the ballot nor the ballot language itself mention a specific electric supplier. However, village officials plan to work with Integrys Energy Services, a subsidiary of a Fortune 1,000 company based in Chicago. Locally, Integrys has an office in Worthington.

“This is the only company that answered all our questions,” Council member Jim Hochradel said. “It is the only one that does budgeting (budget plans for customers).”

“It is a set rate per year,” Council member Tony House explained. “If they can’t beat AEP, they will terminate the program.”

“I don’t see how it could go wrong,” Council member Dwayne Mohler added.

“We need to provide some cost savings to our residents,” Mayor Bob Kalish said. “They had their package together.”

If voters approve, Inegrys will set up a specific 800-number and website just for Baltimore customers. The company is offering a fixed rate of $0.0634 per kwh for 12 months. Your current electric cost from AEP is listed on your monthly bill as the “Price to Compare.”

In other business Monday night, Police Chief Michael Tussey announced that Liberty Union- Thurston Schools will hire Reserve Police Officer John Shirk on a contract basis as the School Resource Officer for the elementary and middle schools. “It is actually a school position,” Tussey explained. “It is a contract position with no benefits.” The school district will pay Shirk, with the village providing a police cruiser. Shirk is a retired Columbus Division of Police sergeant and former Millersport Police Chief.

“It makes that complex a lot safer,” Tussey said.

He also discussed some recent complaints about loud music from a bar patio at the bowling alley. Right now there is little police can do since the bowling alley is outside the department’s jurisdiction. Tussey plans to discuss options with Village Solicitor Jeff Feyko and will refer noise complaints to the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Village Administrator Scott Brown is on vacation, but submitted a written report. He said the installation and calibration of new meters at the water treatment plant shows the village had an 18 percent water loss for the year, down about 15 percent from last year. The current average monthly residential water and sewer bill is $92, down from $106 a year ago. Brown wrote that increases in efficiency and cost reductions have been passed on to residents.

ODOT’s Ohio 158 resurfacing project will start the first week in August, Brown wrote, with milling starting on North Main Street. The village’s resurfacing project will begin the week of Aug. 29. Properties affected by the project will be notified by a door hanger. The village’s website will also have an up to date schedule. Brown wrote that the Safe Routes to School project is about two thirds complete. The last major step is to install the asphalt path on the east side of Main Street. Brown said the new Bope Warehouse Park at the corner of North Main and Water streets will be dedicated at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8.

In his report, Kalish thanked first responders and village employees for their hard work following the severe thunderstorm two weeks ago that caused flooding, blew down trees and disrupted electric service.

He said applications for the next round of Ohio Public Works Commission funding are due Oct. 1. Kalish said administrators would be recommending another round of street resurfacing.

Council members heard the first hearing of an ordinance that would reduce the minimum monthly water service charge by $1 per month. That $1 per month per customer would be placed in a new storm sewer account. Currently, storm water expenses are coming out of the general fund.

Hochradel noted that thanks to a new one million gallon retention basin at the wastewater treatment plant, the village didn’t discharge untreated sewage during the recent heavy rains. Such discharges are prohibited by Ohio EPA and led to enforcement action by the agency against the village. “Several storm sewers are really deteriorating,” he added. Council members plan to hold all three reading on the ordinance.

Hochradel also discussed the sale of the former bed and breakfast on West Market Street. He said two lots east of the house didn’t sell and there is little interest in them since they are in the floodplain. Mowing them and adding the cost to the property taxes won’t help, Hochradel said, because there are already substantial past due taxes outstanding. He wants to see if the village can take control of them.

At the July 8 Council meeting, Ted Reedy was appointed to a three year term on Basil Joint Fire District board. Brown reported that he had been working on revising the village’s planning and zoning fees. His proposal will first be reviewed by the service committee. The objective is to make Baltimore the most competitive on fees of the surrounding communities.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, August 12, in the village hall.

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