THORNVILLE – Village Council members decided at their Nov. 28 meeting to send their Perry County sewer contract back to the Perry County Commissioners to give them an opportunity to tell council members how the commissioners would like to change the contract.
At this point, council members said they are well aware the commissioners are not happy with the existing contract, but they don’t believe the commissioners have ever told them exactly what changes they would like to make – only that they are unhappy with the current terms.
Village Solicitor Brian Zets told council members an attorney representing the commissioners told him the existing water contract has expired because the Thornville water plant’s production is reaching 80 percent capacity.
Council member Dale Brussee explained the contract states when the water plant reaches 80 percent production capacity, the village has the opportunity to limit the amount of water produced, or expand the plant to increase capacity; he said the water plant is built to expand easily. Brussee said operating at 80 percent capacity does not mean the contract expires.
Zets agreed. “The contract is not expired,” he said. “That’s not what (the 80 percent capacity clause) is about.” Zets said as far as he knows, the commissioners have never “sent the village numbers,” or stated specifically what they want out of the contract.
Council President Heidi Robinson said, “This keeps coming up and they never really tell us what they want.” She made a motion to have the commissioners red-line the existing contract and make clear what they would like to change. “At least that would be a starting point,” Robinson said. “So, at least council knows what they want.”
“We’re not suggesting a new contract because the current one is valid,” Zets said. “They’re telling Thornville what they would like changed.”
In 2007, former county commissioners Thad Cooperrider, Fred Shriner, and Lonnie Wood approved a 15-year contract to pay $50,000 in 2007 for Thornville’s sewer service. When the contract ends in 2022, Perry County will be paying Thornville $98,996.58 a year because the contract includes compounding five percent annual increases.
February 2014, Thornville Village
Council members voted 3 to 2 to maintain the existing 15-year contract after Perry County officials asked council members to drop the compounding five percent increase in annual payments.
Brussee said the agreement was reached with a former Perry County administration because at that time heavy residential development was anticipated ahead of the Great Recession. The commissioners wanted to be prepared for it but were not able to make large payments for sewer service. Brussee said the agreement was reached so in the beginning the county could make smaller payments to the village and balance those out toward the end of the 15-year period. He said as far as the village is concerned, the terms are fair.
“The county is once again trying to strong arm the village into negotiations over its sewer contract,” said Mayor Gavin Renner Wednesday. They have unreasonable expectations about spending. Thornport, Fairfield Beach, Heron Bay, Glenford customers are unfortunate enough to be caught in the line of fire and are footing the bill for those mistakes.”
Renner said it’s not Thornville’s responsibility to facilitate giving the county a blank check to encourage further rampant spending for ordinary people have to pay. “Our solicitor is looking into options for our response. We will be responding appropriately. It’s up to the commissioners to swallow their pride and work with us for the future of all Thorn and Hopewell residents. We think they should talk to us as partners. Those discussions should be for the good of the county.”
In other village news:
• Renner said the contract for village solicitor was extended for another two years. “As I’ve stated in the past, costs are based on how much people want to fight about issues with the Village. The Village Solicitor provides appropriate legal advice that provides the maximum amount of value for relatively low cost,” he said.
• The village still struggles to replace its council clerk. “We haven’t had more than one resume; that person politely declined,” Renner said. “Our previous clerk left because of baseless accusations and allegations of professional misconduct made in the newspaper. The village council is temporarily picking up the slack by volunteering their time to handle records requests, minutes, postings and certifying.”
• Council passed village appropriations. Renner thanked Fiscal Officer Melissa Tremblay for working on the numbers. “There were a number of mistakes that she caught for us. We were able to fix those and make changes during the meeting,” he said. Renner said since the appropriation ordinance needed to be passed 30 days prior to enactment, council passed it as an emergency. “Our deadline is December 31 to deliver numbers to the county,” he said.
• Renner said council is further discussing the village’s weeds and grass ordinance. “Clearly residents want some sort of enforcement option for out of control situations,” he said. “They’ve expressed this many times. We have options; we’re discussing the options. I’m happy to see council stepping up and having a free and open discussion about this topic.”
• The village is forming a committee to work on the 4th of July festivities for 2017. “Perhaps we can expand from just having a parade to doing more activities. Contact the Village Office to volunteer. We need people to make this work,” Renner said. “Next year we’d also like to have a Thornville Car Show in October. I’d personally like to see our antique tractor collectors participate. I know we have a lot of people out there with classic vehicles and vintage machinery. Contact the Village Office if you’d like to participate.”