2014-03-29 / News

Wells: ‘Where are we going to get the money to repair our streets’

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Village has already received $19,000 from EMS soft billing and anticipates receiving $60,000.

“The income from the soft billing goes into an account for the fire department and will most likely be used to help in providing two persons (on duty at the Buckeye Lake fire station) around the clock, which was the expressed desire of many residents over the last year or so,” said Mayor Clay Carroll.

“Soft billing” for EMS services means the department will accept whatever it receives from insurance companies for patient transports. There’s no balance billing or co-pay, there are no charges for uninsured residents, and there’s a provision for waiver in case of hardship. Unpaid bills will be written off. The Hebron and Millersport fire departments also soft bill.

Clerk/Treasurer Mary Jennings said the village was holding off paying Medbill – the company that handles processing soft billing for the Village of Buckeye Lake – for its services until the village began receiving income from soft billing. Now that the village has $19,000 from billing, she said, it’s a good time to begin paying Medbill. As of Monday, the village owed Medbill $5,500.

Council member Barry Herron said he’d like council’s finance committee to discuss soft billing and how its income would be used.

In other village news:

• Carroll emphasized that the village is not giving LEADS vacant lots toward its project to create 25 to 30 single-family low-income housing units in Buckeye Lake Village. If tax credits are allocated to the project, new homes will be built on scattered lots throughout the village where derelict homes were demolished. LEADS plans to purchase enough land to build about 10 new homes on East Street.

Carroll said LEADS would bid for open lots like anyone else would. He asked council members Peggy Wells and Margaret Hanson to recount a trip they took to Zanesville March 11 to look at two LEADS developments on and near Greenwood Avenue. Though their design is not similar to the Cape Cod style homes LEADS plans for Buckeye Lake, they are maintained in the same manner; LEADS would manage the homes for 15 years until the renter has the option to purchase the house. The Zanesville homes are 10 years old.

“They were the nicest looking homes in the neighborhood,” said Hanson. “You could see where they began and where they ended. They are very well maintained.”

“I thought they were in really good shape for being 10 years old,” said Wells. “I support the project.”

Previously, LEADS CEO Kenneth Kempton said expects to know by May 14 if the Buckeye Lake project will receive the required tax credit.

• Carroll said he met with Licking County Planning regarding a project to improve the parking area in front of the Village Hall slated for June. He said in layman’s terms, the project in front of Village Hall is part of an Ohio EPA effort to control or limit contaminants entering local waterways. A large section of parking lot in front of the Village Hall will be removed, excavated, and replaced with a “pervious concrete,” which allows rainwater to soak through it and into the soil below. A “rain garden” will be created between the new parking surface and Ohio 79 that will also absorb rain water.

• Wells wants the village to take legal action against the repaving project contractors before the statute of limitations runs out. “Both ChemCote and M•E Engineering should be held to the terms of their contracts with the village,” she told The Beacon. “ChemCote may have gone bankrupt, but M•E was paid nearly $100,000 to set the specifications for the work and then to make sure it was done according to those specifications. What we got was a one-size-fits-all-design that destroyed the base of many of our streets and an inspector that ignored critical specifications like the tack coat and the thickness of the new asphalt. We spent more than three-quarters of a million dollars for street paving that started failing within months. Where are we going to get the money to repair our streets? Taxpayers state-wide funded our grant and taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay twice when our contractors failed to meet their responsibilities. The village should consult with a litigation specialist and proceed with a lawsuit.”

A series of Beacon editorials in 2010 and 2011, detailed how Chem-Cote (the paving contractor) and ME Companies repeatedly violated the terms of their contracts with the village for resurfacing streets torn up by the installation of the village’s public water distribution system. ME was supposed to design, specify and oversee the resurfacing project. Chem-Cote was to resurface village streets according to the specifications outlined in the bid and their subsequent contract with the village. Today, the resurfaced village streets are in disrepair despite being only a few years old.

Carroll said Tuesday that the village already addressed that issue. “I have had discussions with legal counsel in regards to the possible recourse if any of the parties involved with the paving were found to be at fault,” he said. “It is my understanding that there would be little chance of succeeding in that effort.”

• Former council president Charlene Hayden asked if council would publicly announce public records requests as a regular item on each meeting’s agenda. Wells said she doesn’t agree that public record requests should be announced as if those who make such requests have done something. Anyone can ask the village for public records or ask about who’s requested them, she said.

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