In July of 2007 the Thornville Village Council and the Perry County Commissioners entered into a contract to handle the sewage treatment needs of the nearby residents of Thorn Township and the Buckeye Lake areas of Perry County, through the Northern Perry Sewer District.
On Tuesday, March 28, all three Commissioners, Jim Obrien, Dave Freriks, and Ben Carpenter traveled to Thornville for a special meeting scheduled with the Thornville Village Council members Dale Brussee, Debbie Moyer, Linda Savage, Lynne Snider, and Mary Renner. Mayor Gavin Renner and Council person Oliva Newbold were not in attendance.
The Commissioners asked for the meeting to once again discuss the Sewage contract. Due to the flow rates that have been reported to the EPA by the Thornville officials, the current contract is void and a new contract must be ratified. The language in the original contract state that the contract expires when flow rates exceed 80% of the capacity of the treatment plant. According to EPA reports submitted by Thornville, flow has been regularly exceeding that rate since 2011, making the current contract void for over 6 years.
The working relationship between Perry County and Thornville began as a solution for both entities to pass on benefits to the residents of Thornville and outside the village in the unincorporated area of Thorn Township. The Perry County Commissioners, invested approximately $375,000 in infrastructure upgrades, improvements and payments prior to tapping into the Thornville system and gifted that investment to the village to help make the partnership work.
Due to the price structure defined in the voided contract between the Village and the County, the County Commissioners were forced to make recent increases to the rates charged to the residents on the Northern Perry Sewer system. The system operated with a financial deficit in 2015 and 2016 and rate increases were necessary due to costs of this system exceeding the revenue collected from the users. The board of Commissioners were forced to “advance” $237,374.96 in 2015 and $208,737.16 in 2016 to enable the Northern Perry Sewer District to get through each of those years and remain operational. An “advance” is not a “transfer” of General Revenue funds. The Commissioners cannot fund operation of a sewer or water district with General Revenue funds. Both advances will be repaid by the Northern Perry Sewer District to the General Revenue account of the County.
The Perry County Commissioners now have a second option available to them through a tentative agreement with the Licking County Commissioners, to take the sewage affluent around Buckeye Lake and connect to the Licking County System. This change would save the Northern Perry Sewer District up to 25% off the treatment costs currently being paid to the Village of Thornville for the treatment in the Thornville plant, depending on final construction costs and how the work is funded. As stated by the Perry County Commissioners, “Our first priority is to all the residents throughout Perry County, within each village and in the un-incorporated areas. We have an obligation and the responsibility to provide our customers with the best and least cost option for sewage treatment available”.
Perry County Board of Commissioners