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Village organizing committee to study storm water problems

BUCKEYE LAKE – Village council members agreed Monday night to create a committee to review storm water drainage issues. The committee’s findings could lead to the creation of a Storm Water Utility that assesses a management fee on property owners.

Council member Clay Carroll suggested forming a committee after Jobes Henderson & Associates President Jim Roberts presented the pros and cons of a storm water utility during the July 22 council meeting. Carroll thought it would be a good idea for a committee to look at storm water drainage problem areas before establishing a utility and setting a fee. “We’re looking for volunteers,” he said.

Public Work Director Vaughn Klingler who is the driving force behind addressing storm water drainage problems said there is no limit to the size of the committee. “The more the merrier,” he said. Any one interested should contact the village office.

“Council will eventually have to decide whether it wants to adopt the storm water utility,” said Mayor Rick Baker. “It seems as though the council is willing to look into it but the actual adoption would be by a vote.” He previously estimated a storm water utility would cost village residents $3 to $4 per month, but that was just a guess.

“The storm water utility would be created so the village will have money that is used only for repair of current storm water sewers and for engineering and construction costs of new storm water sewers,” said council president Charlene Hayden. Currently, any repairs or construction related to storm water sewers is comes out of the street department fund or the general fund. “If we have a specific pot of money dedicated to a storm water utility, we will free up money in the other accounts,” she said. “Having a dependable funding source, such as the storm water utility, will give us an opportunity to apply for grant money, which requires some kind of match. The majority of the time the entity receiving grant money has to put in a specific percentage amount depending on the type of grant.”

Hayden said without going into the complexity of determining how much each property owner would be assessed, payments would be based on the cost of one ERU (Equivalent Runoff Unit). So, more than likely, a homeowner might pay for one or two ERU’s and a business property owner might pay for five depending on how the property is evaluated. “Keep in mind, this is all hypothetical with respect to the number of ERU’s because we have no idea at this time what an ERU is for our village,” she said. The point I’m trying to make is that everyone shares equally in the cost of the utility.” Also, Hayden said by assessing storm water fees, the village is showing Ohio EPA that it’s serious about complying with its mandates. “It is important that we comply because the village can be fined if we do not show good faith in doing something about our storm water runoff,” she said.

Hayden said storm water sewers would help reduce and/or eliminate water standing in the street. “It may not solve all the problems, but it will take care of most of them,” she said. “Of course, rain events like we have had lately would be a challenge for any storm water sewer system.” Hayden said the proximity of the lake means it is very important to reduce the storm water runoff that flows into the lake. “Our entire economy in this area is dependent on the number of people who spend time and money on the lake and at the businesses surrounding the lake,” she said. “Just look at what has happened to the area around Grand Lake St. Marys. Businesses around that Lake are struggling and real estate values have gone down because of the algae that has overtaken the Lake.” Hayden said several civic groups are monitoring water quality and trying to educate people about how to improve it. “As a village, we do not want to be the cause of additional pollutants,” she said.

In other council news:

• Director of Development Mike Cassidy said there should enough funding to tear down two more derelict homes under the Moving Ohio Forward program. He said Buckeye Lake and Newark combined have removed more than 70 homes.

Baker said one cleared lot may be turned over to the village. “The address for the property is at 4831 Walnut Rd. It is now a lot right on the curve close to the tattoo parlor,” he said. “It was a house with a porch almost sticking out in the street.” Baker wants the village to sell the property and use the income to demolish more derelict homes.

• Council members approved a two-year contract with Border Energy to reduce the cost of electricity to village-owned properties.

• Hayden said a special council meeting will likely be set to separate Buckeye Lake Village from Union Township, or “conform” village borders.

The Licking County Budget Commission wants the boundaries between townships and incorporated areas conformed. That means that Buckeye Lake and Hebron either secede from the township, giving up their voting privileges for township officials and their ability to serve in those offices OR they begin voting on and paying township tax levies if enacted. Decisions must be made by August 30.

Both Buckeye Lake and Union Township have fire levies on the November ballot, and both township and village officials are concerned if Buckeye Lake voters are faced with two levies, both will be rejected.

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