High water rates plague Cardington council
By EVELYN LONG –
The matter of the high water bills was discussed again when Cardington Village Council met in regular session on April 16, 2012
Heather Deskins, a South Marion Street resident who had questioned the high rates during an earlier council meeting, said that she had gone online and learned that, “our ordinances that are online are not up to date, so I called and was given the current rates.” She calculated the changes over the last five years and determined that there has been a 291% increase in the base rate, the operations and management and debt service has gone up about 45% over the last five years.
The base sewer rate has gone up 141% and the operations and management and debt service has gone up 21% over the last five years. She said she feels, “the rate increases are staggering,” and inquired as to how “we could go up over 300% in our base rate for water.”
She suggested if council has the authority to put a board together or committee to review the water rates for the community, she she is a CPA and volunteered to serve on any such committee.
Mayor Susie Peyton said she, “cannot fix what has happened in the past, and she is reviewing the current rates. She further noted that in the past the General Fund subsidized the water/sewer funds but “we can no longer do this due to the lack of funds, we have lost businesses so the income tax is less than it was.”
Village Solicitor Jim Dietz explained there was a non profit organization that did a rate study pretty much the whole year of 2010 and their recommendation was that the Utility Fund should be self sustaining and they never have been. He said income tax dollars were used in the past to supplement the sewer and water funds and what is the cost now includes the actual costs plus future maintenance and capital improvements that have not been in there in the past. “We are trying to change from using current funds to fund future capital improvement to have money specifically for this.” He noted that the village spent a year with professionals to analyze the figures.
When Deskins asked the number of residents being billed for service, she was told it is 700. The number for sewer is about the same. Deskins also asked about the village audit and was told by Debbie DiLeo, fiscal officer, that there has been an audit.
Deskins also asked if there has been anything done to minimize any of the costs with the water department, such as giving rebates for energy/water saving residents to reduce their water usage. The answer was negative. Dietz explained that cost saving measures were put in place in general in terms of working with the engineer but there are no incentives to use less water. Deskins then noted that her family had completed such cost saving measures and as a result, their water usage dropped by 1,700 gallons. She said she felt incentives for villagers to use less water would be helpful.
Mayor Peyton stated it is not as much about using less water as that “we need to generate funds to take care of the Capital Improvements and things that have to be done.
“This water change was not done overnight — it was reviewed for about 18 months council is also feeling the pain of paying high rates.” She did state that there is to be a sewer plant upgrade and “we may be able to cut chemical expenses with it. We are trying everything we can.”
Stacey Hines of Water Street, was present to voice his concerns about a property line dispute that dates back to when the Phase 1 Water line replacement was made and a pin was removed by the contractors that marked his property line. Danny Wood, acting village administrator, said he had visited the property and found only three of the four property pins. Wood said it had been surveyed but there is a dispute between what the survey says between him and his neighbor and two different survey companies. In addition, there is an alley that was abandoned so half of the alley belongs to him, he said. Deitz explained that when an alley is vacated the statute states who gets what part of the property. When asked by Deitz how it was left with the surveyors Hines said one said he will not change it and the other said if we need his help, let him know. When asked by Dietz what he wants the village to do, Hines said he wants the village to have his lot fixed by having the pin replaced in the correct spot-and agreed to having the village send a surveyor.
In other matters, council approved an ordinance which amends the permanent appropriations for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2012.DiLeo explained na additional $2,500 was added to public safety from the general fund for the dumpsters for the smaller trash clean up.
The first reading of and ordinance creating the position of Village Manager was met with opposition by Councilman Richard Caldwell, who said the job description was “too cumbersome for one individual.” In response to his question, Mayor Peyton said it was not reviewed by the Personnel Committee but was reviewed at the most recent work session. Caldwell said he “did not want to set somebody up to not be able to do what we are asking them to do.” Councilman Tim Abraham inquired “Isn’t all this already happening?” Mayor Peyton stated that presently Debbie (Di– Leo), the village fiscal officer and the proposed village manager, is handling everything that is in this job description with out help. The mayor’s recommendation was that the village hie part time help to support her with payroll and financials.
Caldwell then asked if it is already being done, why “do we need another person.”
The mayor stated that Debbie is working a large amount of hours and she does not think it is fair to her. “On Rec Board days, Debbie has a 13 hour day and that is not in addition to this description.” The mayor further stated that she (DiLeo) wants the position and feels she is very able to do it. Councilwoman Sherry Graham, noted this will be reviewed at the end of the year because it is technically only temporary.
The mayor said there will be two contracts with DiLeo, the one they were reviewing that evening was her present contract and then she will have a supplemental contract.
Caldwell said he felt the description was vague and very hurried and rushed and put together in that manner.
The vote was three nays and three yeas. Voting “no” were Councilman Caldwell, Randy Fox and Councilwoman Vickie Wise. Mayor Peyton broke the tie by voting
The vote was the same on the first reading of an ordinance appointing DiLeo as village manager and the mayor again broke the tie by voting ‘yes.”
The ordinance accepting the job description for the position of administrator for the village was also given a first reading resulting in the same tie vote and the mayor broke the tie, voting “yes.”
The ordinance given a first reading reappointing DiLeo as village fiscal officer was approved on a vote of 4–2. Voting against it were council members Fox and Wise.
A first reading of a resolution appointing Danny Wood as village administrator was approved on a vote by the mayor when a 3 — 3 tie vote was made. Voting “no,” were council members Caldwell, Fox and Wise.
Council authorized the mayor to advertise for a temporary part time office assistant for four hours per day. The mayor noted that regardless of the hiring of the village administrator and village manager, “we still need this person. If we decide later to hire a village administrator we still need someone here in the interim, this is a temporary part time person.”
Giving the police department report was Robert Huston, Acting Chief of Police, who said that since January 1, 2012, the department has issued 174 warnings and 61 citations.
He said the department was awarded several small items from the United States Government from the D. R. M. O. Program including multiply clothing items and a $300 tool box. The 2008 cruiser had to have a water pump replaced and the 2010 cruiser had been serviced. The 2008 cruiser is again out of service for fan work.
The police department had received two first aid boxes from the Hubbard Police Department through the D. R. M. O program and they were filled with multiple first aid items and placed in both cruisers for duty use.
The Explorers Unit has made $206 selling 550 paracord survival bracelets .
Officer Stoica attended a C. I. T class in Delaware on April 9, 2012 and is now certified to teach this to the rest of the department. This was the free class that was funded by the $750 grant they had received.
There was a lengthy discussion prompted by APC Huston’s explanation of an offer from DRMO to get a free HUMVEE. He said the vehicle, probably a 1994–95, could be used by the street and water departments or other departments and could be taken back at any time. It would be free. He said it could be sent back if they didn’t like it. A lengthy discussion followed and the consensus was that “they should go for it.”
In other matters, council agreed to fill the local swimming pool for the first time as has been the custom, at no charge. When Councilman Abraham asked how much the cost would be, he was told “around $1,500.”
A first reading was given an ordinance authorizing the mayor to complete and submit the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency– subdivision of Surface Water 2012 Surface Water Improvement Fund Grant application. The mayor reminded the council that this is for a parking lot for Maxwell Park and is a grant for up to $100,000 with no match.
The interim village administrator, Danny Wood, reported that the department had patched pot holes, made curb and sidewalk repair in the downtown area, completed landscaping in front of the municipal building, power washed the bricks around the flag pole and filled a sinkhole on Gilead Street.
Fiscal Officer DiLeo said that quarterly payroll reports had been filed, the unemployment reports filed and the March pension reports were completed. She had also filed an insurance claim for the electric surge damage incurred with the fire alarm system and the phone system.
She had received notice from the Morrow County Treasurer of a pending inheritance tax check for $29,500 which has not arrived yet.
Council adjourned the 77-minute regular meeting and entered executive session on the basis of ORC 121.22 (G) (1) and (G) (3). The executive session ended 66 minutes later with no further action taken.
Council will meet next on May 7 at 7 pm.