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Perry County sewer system finally ready for customers

THORNVILLE- Flushed with success, Perry County Commissioners announced Feb. 28 that the new Fireman’s Park/Holiday Harbor sewer project is ready for customers. “We’re about ready to start hooking up homes,” said Commissioner Thad Cooperrider to a crowd at the Thornville Elementary School, who attended the Thursday evening special commissioners meeting.

Cooperrider said that construction is “basically done” on the $4,085,792 project, which was begun March 16, 2007, almost exactly a year ago. The dilemma of providing sewer to the portion of Buckeye Lake’s south bank in Perry County goes back to the 1970s, when Ohio EPA offered to install a public system, but the county commissioners who were in officeat the time refused the service. After determining that some septic systems in the area were leaking into Buckeye Lake, Ohio EPA placed a moratorium on additional construction in the area. Frustrated property owners weren’t able to build on lakeside lots for years, but that’s changed. Connections to the sewer system may begin April 1, and at least 200 homes must be connected by Aug. 31.

The commissioners presented a sign-up sheet for residents, giving them options of when to attach their homes to the system-April 1 through 30, May 1 through June 30, and July 1 through August 31. Cooperrider said 20 to 30 people from Fireman’s Park must sign on before service can be provided to that area. The commissioners also provided a list of qualified contractors who have received the proper training to tie homes onto the system. The contractors are: Brandywine Plumbing, Doug’s Digging, KRP Excavating, Larry Snyder, Lynnwood Trucking, Miller Ranny Cantrell Plumbing, Newman Excavating, Paul Brown Cement, Pro Excavating, Tri-County Plumbing, Utility Solutions, Woodruff Excavating, and Woodgeard Excavating is qualified to work on gravity mains, but not pressurized mains. Those on pressurized mains have “green lids” in their yards, and those on gravity mains have manholes in their streets.

Cooperrider warned that the county cannot be held liable for work completed by contractors or individuals who are not on the list. If that person or contractor somehow damages the county’s system, the homeowner will be responsible for those damages. Prior to connection, the $3,500 tap fee must be paid, easements must be approved (giving the county permission to enter the property for maintenance purposes), and paperwork must be completed.

The county is offering financing for the tap fee, whereby the resident may pay a $95 processing fee and $35 per month. Unfortunately, it’s a 14-year payoff period and the resident will have paid $5,890.14 with the interest. An early pay-off will not reduce the interest amount. “It’s like making a deal with the devil,” said Cooperrider. Financing the tap fee through the county should be the last resort, he said, urging residents to look to banks, savings and loans, or any other funding source before financing through the county. Cooperrider said the county wanted to be able to offer some sort of financial assistance, and that’s the best that could be done.

The tap fees will likely be raised after the existing homes are serviced, said Cooperrider. “If you’re a lot owner, don’t drag your feet. It’ll probably change after the first of the year,” he said.

Service will be delayed to 10 to 12 houses in the Little Buckeye area, said Jerry Rehart, Northern Perry County Water & Wastewater supervisor. He wasn’t certain of the length of the delay. “It will eventually be done,” he said, “but more design work is necessary.”

Cooperrider said the existing Crown Wherle plant can serve 205 customers until the new sewer system is attached to Thornville’s sewer plant, probably July. “Then the lid is off,” he said.

Rehart said condominiums – two to three units per building – will only have one tap, but each unit will be billed separately and each unit pays a sewer tap fee.

As homes join the system, Cooperrider said monthly bills will hover around a $22.50 per month minimum until the system is complete. Once the project is finished and the number of customers is known, the county will recalculate the rates, which will likely be higher. “I think we’ll be looking at $40 to $45 (monthly) sewer bills before it’s all over,” he said. “We’ve got to have a lot of customers to keep it affordable.”

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