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Buckeye Lake ‘very close’ to agreement for water

BUCKEYE LAKE- Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster said he believes the village is “very close” to signing a contract with Millersport to supply the Village of Buckeye Lake with public water.

Buckeye Lake Village Council met in a special session Monday night to review a draft contract proposed by the Millersport Board of Public Affairs. Buckeye Lake Village Council members seemed comfortable with terms of the contract, although they could not vote to approve it Monday night because the draft contract has yet to be approved by the Millersport Village Council, which meets Feb. 12.

“We’re very, very close right now,” said Foster. He said he’ll ask the village solicitor to prepare legislation so the village is ready to move forward as soon as the Millersport council approves the contract, assuming it does. Foster added that the draft contract meets with the Millersport Board of Public Affairs’ approval.

“The deal with Millersport is quite fair to Buckeye Lake,” said council member Drew Bourne.

Some highlights of the proposed contract include:

• The initial rate for water sales will be $3.15 per 1,000 gallons (the Village of Buckeye Lake would need to charge more than this to cover its expenses associated with building and maintaining the distribution system, billing, etc.). The rate will only increase if Millersport’s rates increase and any rate increase would be at an equal percentage to Millersport. There would be no rate increase within 42 months after Buckeye Lake notifies Millersport that the village is ready to proceed with the project.

• Millersport would supply Buckeye Lake up to 600,000 gallons per day-Buckeye Lake currently requires about 350,000 gallons per day.

• Millersport would charge a one-time tap fee of $306,000.

• Millersport would agree to complete the construction of a 10″ water line to Buckeye Lake’s western corporation limit on SR 79 no later than 18 months after Buckeye Lake notifies Millersport that the village is ready to proceed with the project.

• Millersport would not place Buckeye Lake under any water use restrictions unless Millersport is also placed under similar restrictions, such as a prolonged drought or a system failure.

• Both parties would agree that the service boundary is the Fairfield County and Licking County line with the exception of those properties already in the Village of Buckeye Lake and not currently being served by Millersport. This means Millersport agrees not to provide water service to any properties in Licking County or in the current FairfieldCounty portion of the Village of Buckeye Lake and Buckeye Lake agrees not to provide water service to any customers in FairfieldCounty except for that portion currently in the Village of Buckeye Lake. These service areas may be amended by mutual agreement of Millersport and Buckeye Lake.

• Buckeye Lake would build a master water meter at the junction of Millersport’s system and Buckeye Lake’s distribution system.

• The proposed contract is for 30 years with a minimum of 15 years. Foster said that if the contract is approved, the Buckeye Lake administration will need to begin reviewing the contract in 25 years to decide if it should be extended or if the village is ready to build its own plant.

Millersport council member Dave Levacy said Tuesday that he can’t speak for all members of the Millersport Village Council, but he believes they approve of the contract. He said he’s attended all the Board of Public Affairs meetings where the proposed contract was discussed and he’s kept council informed of its progress.

“We’ve been in the process all along and we’re behind (the contract),” he said. The contract is beneficialto both villages, he said. Levacy added that in addition to raising property values, Buckeye Lake residents may not realize public water access will significantlyreduce their insurance rates.

If both village councils approve the contract, Levacy believes Millersport can complete extension of its water line to Buckeye Lake Village within a year. He also believes Buckeye Lake residents will be happy with the service. “Our water is excellent quality,” he said. “We’re fortunate.”

Kevin Wood, vice president of M•E Companies, the engineering firmdesigning Buckeye Lake’s distribution system, said Monday night that he estimates two years between the time Buckeye Lake signs a contract and public water flows. He expects designing the distribution system and receiving all the EPA permits would take a year, and then building the distribution system would take another year. Wood said M•E Companies has an old distribution system design on filefrom a previous attempt at reaching an agreement with Millersport. M•E Companies would simply update the previous design.

Foster said water would be available to everyone in Buckeye Lake Village, but there is still some question about what the village will do about providing service to privately owned roads. The village would need to acquire easements, or sections of land that the village can access without permission at any time to install and maintain water lines.

Wood said assuming the contract with Millersport is signed the Village of Buckeye Lake will survey residents to learn who’s interested in having public water.

In other council news, council members voted unanimously Monday night to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with Park National Bank to buy a new ambulance for the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. The ambulance is expected to cost about $185,000. It should be delivered in October or November.

Previously, Foster said the village would likely make fiveannual payments of about $40,000 each for the ambulance.

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