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Hebron won’t be rushed on water deal

HEBRON – If Buckeye Lake officials thought “shopping” the draft water contract offer from the Village of Millersport would get them a better deal, they’ll be disappointed.

Hebron council members spent about 30 minutes Monday night during their combined committees meeting discussing the village’s response to a letter from Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster. Buckeye Lake officials originally asked Hebron to respond to the Millersport offer by Nov. 12 but extended that deadline at Foster’s request to Nov. 23.

The discussion started as a review of Village Administrator Mike McFarland’s letter to Foster. McFarland said Hebron isn’t in position to hand them a contract like Millersport. “We haven’t done enough due diligence,” he explained. He noted that Hebron residents currently pay $3.55 per thousand gallons and that an ordinance sets the out-of-village rate at 200 percent the current village rate.

The discussion quickly moved beyond McFarland’s letter. Council member Erin Finkes wanted to make it clear that Hebron would not incur debt on behalf of the contract. In other words, Buckeye Lake would be responsible for getting the water under I-70. Hebron would provide a master meter at its southern boundary.

“I don’t want to be rushed into something,” Council member Bob Gilbert said. Council President Annelle Porter quickly agreed. “I’m real annoyed about how this is being approached,” she added. “I don’t know where my hackles are, but they are up.”

Porter was surprised that no one from Buckeye Lake attended the meeting. She viewed Foster’s letter as a demand for a price right now.

“I think we need to protect our own resources for our own community,” Porter added. She expressed concerns about whether Hebron actually has enough water to supply Buckeye Lake. The village clearly has plenty of treatment plant capacity, but Porter wonders if the groundwater resources will be there when needed.

Council member Scott Walters also objected to what he called the “shotgun approach” to a water contract.

McFarland said the village is just now determining its actual costs for water, which includes actual operating costs for the new water treatment plant. “We’re real close to that,” he said. McFarland also reminded council members that the village will talking to the county in a little over a year since that water supply contract expires in 2010.

He plans to respond to Foster Tuesday. It won’t include a specific contract price or terms, but it also will keep the door open if Buckeye Lake wants to talk some more while the village is developing its actual costs.

In other business Monday night, Hebron’s new fiscal officerCarie Kraner presented a draft 2008 budget to council members. She met with each department head with some expressing discomfort about being charged for items that should have been allocated elsewhere. Kraner asked each department head to be very conservative on spending in 2008 to help the village strengthen its budgeting process.

Kraner hopes to present the draft budget in ordinance form for the next council meetings. She hopes council can approve with three readings by the end of the year.

“We have already cut back for 2008,” McFarland told council members. “2008 needs to be very lean.” Every department head has been cooperative.

Council members also discussed whether to continue hiring a transcriptionist for council meetings. That practice started when Village Clerk Vicky Fulk resigned. The service costs $300-400 per meeting. Kraner suggested that she could take minutes for most meetings, limiting the use of a transcriptionist for meetings with critical issues like rezoning decisions. All meetings are already recorded, but recordings can be difficultto transcribe, particularly when several people are talking at the same time.

Council members accepted Kraner’s suggestion, but will retain a transcriptionist for Planning and Zoning Board meetings.

Council also set its year-end and first of the year meeting schedule. The December 26 regular council meeting will be moved to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17. That meeting will be preceded by a 6 p.m. public hearing on a rezoning recommendaton. The council meetings will immediately be followed by council’s monthly combined committees meeting. Members also tentatively set the annual reorganization meetings for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The regular council meeting follows at 7:30 p.m.

Finkes also brought up changing the speed limit on 9th Street and Refugee Road. Currently, the limit is 25 mph heading west on Refugee Road until just past the entrance to Evans Park. However, coming into the village on Refugee Road, the limit is 35 mph until Refugee becomes 9th Street. Finkes want the limit to be 25 mph in both directions from just west of the entrances to Evans Park and the new Cumberland Meadows development. She will discuss the issue with Police Chief James Dean. Finkes also questioned whether the building setback should be increased on major streets.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in the Municipal Complex.

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