SOMERSET – Roughly 50 people attended the Perry County Commissioners’ public meeting at Somerset Elementary School Sept. 30 as commissioners continue to field questions about the Burr Oak Regional Water District’s proposal to provide water to Northern Perry County. This was the commissioners’ second public meeting on the subject. Most of the residents present want public water.
Commissioner Jim O’Brien said at the outset that commissioners are no closer to deciding whether to accept Burr Oak’s offer.
Currently, Thornville provides water to Northern Perry County.
“It’s going to be a pretty hard decision for us,” said Commissioner Ed Keister. He said Burr Oak’s proposal would help provide public water to residents who want it. Keister said Burr Oak could begin installing water lines “tomorrow” if the county accepts its offer. “I’m not pushing this to Burr Oak,” said Keister, who also serves on Burr Oak’s board of directors.
Thornville Mayor Gavin Renner asked if Thornville would lose the revenue it receives from providing water to Glenford if the county switches to Burr Oak. Keister said Thornville would lose revenue from Glenford, but not Buckeye Lake.
Thornville Village Council member Mary Renner asked if Keister considered it to be a conflict of interest serving as commissioner and on the Burr Oak board. Keister said he doesn’t vote on anything that may be conflict and would consider stepping down from the Burr Oak board.
The Burr Oak Regional Water District distributed an handout explaining why it made its proposal to the commissioners. According to the handout, In 2004, the Burr Oak Regional Water District and the Perry County Commissioners executed a long term agreement for bulk water sales to the Northern Perry County Water system. Commissioners had constructed the first phase of their water system and were purchasing bulk water on a short term basis from the Village of Somerset that wasn’t interested in a long term arrangement. Perry County then reached a long term deal with Burr Oak. Burr Oak then spent $2.3 million to design, bid and construct approximately 48,000 feet of waterline, a booster station, and an elevated water storage tank to deliver water to Northern Perry County’s system on Mainesville Road.
With Perry County facing mandated wastewater projects and limited financial resources, Burr Oak is offering to finance the expansion of the Northern Perry County system. The district would also work to reduce water losses. Burr Oak’s $1,025 tap fee is much lower than North Perry’s $2,500 to $3,000.
Commissioners are scheduling one-on-one meetings with the villages of Thornville, Glenford, and Somerset to try to address their concerns.