Wauseon City Council Continues Discussion On Water And Sewer Rates

By: Chelsie Firestone – THE VILLAGE REPORTER

Speaking on behalf of the utility committee during council’s October 21 meeting, Councilor Heather Kost reported to council that the Utility Committee had met prior to the meeting for the purpose of further the discussion on the proposed water and sewer rate increases scheduled for November 1. The committee met with Jamie Giguere, Dennis Richardson, and Dave Pike to discuss upcoming expenses and current revenue and fund amounts. The committee recommended to council that the original 5% water increase be kept but that the sewer rate increase be moved to 5% from its originally planned 15%. The projected increase for Wauseon residents would average at approximately $3.35 each month.

Councilor Shane Chamberlin asked what the projected plans are for the use of the funds. Director of Public Service Dennis Richardson responded that the major project at the water plant is refurbishing and that the painting of the water tower on Shoop Avenue will also be a priority next year. The wastewater plant is also rebuilding clarifiers and replacing the digester cover lid that has malfunctioned. The Public Works Department is anticipating a $100,000 expenditure for materials involved in replacing water mains and hydrants within the city. An additional $200,000 will be allotted for sewer replacement repairs. Councilor Chamberlin then asked when the last repairs were made. Richardson explained that the last replacements were done on Burnell Street last spring.

Councilor Kost asked that Richardson also explain the upcoming EPA changes. Due to changing sludge rules, the EPA is pushing the city towards the production of Class A sludge. This will require that the sludge be 100% dried and then used for purposes such as mulch.

Councilor Chamberlin again questioned why capital project funds and general funds cannot be used to cover these expenses. Director of Finance Jamie Giguere explained that the general fund can only be used for general purposes and a specific set of expenses and that the capital fund can only be used for capital projects. Chamberlin also questioned why the existing funds of $2.2 million in the wastewater fund and $1.6 million in the water fund were insufficient to cover the costs of the upcoming projects and stated that he believed that a $1 million dollar cushion should be more than adequate to cover the projects and still maintain enough reserve to cover upcoming expenses and any emergency expenses that might arise.

Chamberlin then motioned that the city forego any planned water and sewer rate increases at this time. With no second, the motion failed. Councilor Fred Allen then moved that council amend Ordinance 2013-1 and set the water and sewer rate increase for November 1 at 5% for both water and sewer as opposed to the 15% increase originally slated for sewer rates. The motion carried with Chamberlin’s objection. A special meeting will be held on October 31 at 8:15 A.M. in council chambers to amend Ordinance 2013-1 as it pertains to these rates.

Council then moved on to hear reports from department heads. Regional Planning Director David Wright reported that the Revolving Loan Committee met regarding the subordination agreement with Don’s Automotive Group, LLC. The committee recommended to approve the agreement, which will allow the city to maintain their second position on the loan. The recommendation was accepted by council later in the meeting with no objection.

Fire Chief Ric Sluder reminded council that the Feather Party is scheduled for November 16. Police Chief Keith Torbet reminded everyone that Trick or Treat is scheduled for October 31 from 6:00 to 7:30. Chief Sluder added that the Fire Department will be serving cider and donuts after Trick or Treat.

Code Administrator Tom Hall reported that the city has completed this year’s sidewalk projects and that the city has obtained the title for the bike path. Director of Finance Jamie Giguere reported that she added a line item, Income Tax Refunds, to Resolution 2013-13 due to a large income tax refund the city received that had to be budgeted in to pay for. The resolution passed first reading later in the meeting.

Assistant Director of Law Jan Stamm reported for Director of Law Tom McWatters that McWatters has continued working with Chief Torbet on the Lexipol Standards Policy Manual.

Other legislative matters addressed by council included Resolution 2013-30, which authorizes the mayor to enter into an amendment to the agreement for indigent services in county court with the Fulton County Commissioners. The resolution passed on second reading. Also passing on second reading was Ordinance 2013-9, which repeals Section 2 or Ordinance 1999-18 and Section 20 of Ordinance 1990-35, thereby eliminating the pay cap for crossing guards.

There was no legislated presented for third reading and the meeting was adjourned without further action.

Chelsie Firestone may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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