Wauseon City Council Discusses Water And Sewer Rate Increases

By: Chelsie Firestone – THE VILLAGE REPORTER

Council President Karen Krumm reported to members of the Wauseon City Council on behalf of the Utility Committee during the last regularly scheduled council meeting held on October 7. Krumm reported that the Utility Committee had met on October 2 and discussed the water and sewer rates that were scheduled to have taken place on April 1 but were postponed and are now scheduled to take effect on November 1. The committee had discussed with Dave Pike, Water Reclamation Superintendent, the equipment and repairs needed at the water plant. Krumm recited the following costs of these repairs and necessary equipment to council:

  • Replacement of final clarifier drives, estimated cost of $400,000
  • Replacement of primary clarifier drives, estimated cost of $400,000
  • Replacement of influent screw pumps, estimated cost of $600,000
  • Replacement digester cover, estimated cost of $390,000
  • Replacement of 2 chemical pumps, estimated cost of $8000
  • Replacement of light fixtures in office area, estimated cost of $1100
  • Proposed installation of Class A system for Biosolids (costs can be broken into phases), estimated cost of $3 million.
  • Other maintenance and painting expenses, estimated cost of $1 million

Krumm informed council that due to these expenses that the committee had decided at the end of the meeting to let the rate increases go through as scheduled on November 1 but, since receiving feedback on the matter, the committee has decided that they would like to discuss the matter further and schedule another meeting.
Councilor Shane Chamberlin asked several questions about the projects planned as they relate to the rate increases and at what point it was determined that the replacements would be needed. Director of Public Service Dennis Richardson explained that the city tries to be frugal and work with what they can to minimize the cost of repairs but that there comes a time when repairs no longer work and replacements are needed to do the aging of materials. Councilor Jeffrey Stiriz added that there was a study conducted several years ago that helped determine what the rates would need to be in order to keep up with replacement costs for both equipment and infrastructure.

Council Heather Kost added that a schedule of anticipated replacement dates would be helpful and that if the entire infrastructure is the same age that it could be damaging to the city’s budget as all of the replacements would need done at the same time. Councilor Chamberlin also stated that he would like to see some of the projects presented move forward so that they are not all presented to council at one time. He continued by expressing his concern that once the rates are raised that the work will not be done in a timely manner and asked Director of Finance Jamie Giguere to clarify existing balances in the accounts that are designed to cover such repairs.

Giguere explained that while there is approximately $2 million in those accounts that the city needs to maintain a surplus in case of emergency. This was also addressed by Richardson who cited the need for a reserve of funds for unexpected expenses, such as the CO2 tank that the city recently needed to replace. Mayor Doug Shaw also commented that the projects will more than likely not happen all at once and will, instead, happen over the course of time.

Councilor Don Mathews also added that if there is money available and the city can afford to spend the money that he would like to see some of the projects on the list being completed. Councilor Chamberlin added that if light fixtures need replaced then that should be getting done.

In response to the question of how Wauseon’s water and sewer rates compare to other nearby localities, Mayor Shaw noted that, per a study done several years ago, Wauseon’s rates remain some of the lowest in the area. Councilor Mathews added that Wauseon still maintains the second lowest rate in Fulton County. Mayor Shaw explained that should the city decide to raise rates that they will not be out of line and are projecting towards the future.

Councilor Chamberlin thanked Council President Krumm and the Utility Committee for waiting for to have another meeting and for conducting further investigation into the matter of raising rates the 5% that they are slated to be raised on November 1 and then moved to replace the light fixtures at the Water Reclamation Plant. The motion was seconded by Krumm and carried with no objections.

Following the discussion of water rates, Councilor Mathews reported to council, on behalf of the Tree Commission, that the Commission is going to try to plant 15 trees each year at Homecoming Park for the next four years. He also informed council that letters were written to property owners about the removal of dead trees and that the Commission is working on nominees for next year’s Booster of the Year Award.

Regional Planning Director David Wright reported that he has been approached by two property owners in the downtown area about possible funding and that he has been working with these property owners to find out the scope of the projects and whether or not they have the capacity to bring their properties up to code. Wright has been working with the owner of one potential business downtown to determine if the owner is eligible for Revolving Loan funds.

Fire Chief Rick Sluder informed council that the department will be doing safety education programs throughout the schools over the remainder of Fire Safety month and reminded council that the Feather Party is scheduled for November 16.

Police Chief Keith Torbet reported that the department has been conditionally approved for the Bull Proof Vest grant and that they will also be submitting their application for the JAG-LE grant.

Code Administrator Tom Hall noted that he has also been fielding some phone calls regarding the downtown business that Wright had previously mention and that Northwest Foam Products is putting on a large addition.
Director of Public Service Dennis Richardson reported that ODOT is requiring the city to do a Phase I Environmental Study on nine properties for the Linfoot Street Project and that the Airport sanitary sewer project is done.

Director of Finance Jamie Giguere reminded council that the City will soon be able to accept credit card payments and distributed the September, 2013 Month to Date, and Income Tax Revenue reports to council.
Director of Law Thomas McWatters III reported that he has been working with Chief Torbet, reviewing the Lexipol Polices and Procedures Manual for the police department. He has also been working on matters pertaining to the Revolving Loan Fund and noted that Don’s Automotive is seeking subordination to the city’s original loan and that there will soon be a meeting regarding that loan. McWatters also noted that the Don’s Automotive loan is typical business procedure but that there are a few other loans he will be needing to work on collections of. McWatters has also been working on the current medical insurance policy and an employee meeting has been scheduled to go over the policy.

In legislative matters, a first reading of Resolution 2013-30 which authorizes the Mayor to enter into an agreement for indigent defense services in County Court with the Fulton County Commissioners. A first reading of Ordinance 2013-9, which would repeal Section 2 of Ordinance 1999-18 and Section 20 of Ordinance 1990-35. This ordinance pertains to repealing the cap on crossing guard pay and would allow for them to receive pay raises as scheduled.

There were no second readings of legislation. A third reading of Ordinance 2013-7, amending the Codified Ordinances of the City of Wauseon to add “Section 719, Sweepstakes Internet Café” to Part Seven – Business Regulation Code was held and passed with no objections. The ordinance will go into effect in 30 days. A third reading of Ordinance 2013-8, amending sections 505.17 and 957 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Wauseon was also held. The ordinance is in regard to the codification of park rules, passed with no objections, and will go into effect in 30 days.

In new business Mayor Shaw informed council that both Ottawa Oil Co., (Courtview Mart), 151 S. Fulton Street and Downtown Billiards LLC, 123 N. Fulton Street have filed applications for Liquor Permits. The Ottawa Oil application is for a C1 and C2 permit and the Downtown Billiards application is for a D5 and D6 permit. The Downtown Billiards application is in regard to the permit they purchased out of Lucas County and moved to Wauseon as part of the TREX program. Council had no questions regarding either permit and no public hearings were requested.

At the end of the meeting Councilor Mathews also asked about the passing out of smoke detectors. Chief Sluder explained that the funds for the project come out of the funds raised by the Feather Party and that the department usually spends approximately $1000 a year on the project. The detectors, which are usually passed out to first graders, are packaged and ready to be distributed. With no further matters being brought before council, Mayor Shaw asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.

Chelsie Firestone can be reached at chelsie@thevillagereporter.com

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