POMEROY — Pomeroy Council debated an upcoming water and sewer rate increase, along with numerous other matters, for two hours during Monday’s meeting
A planned January increase of 4.75 percent in water and sewer service for village customers dominated the conversation.
The council requested an amended ordinance for their next meeting that would delay the increase for three months. The council further planned to hold an extra meeting in January, in order to guarantee the standard three readings for ordinance changes, before the rate hike comes into effect.
That move was preceded by discussion of the health of the village’s finances, specifically the water and sewer accounts.
Clerk Sue Baker told council the water department monies “are a lot better, not in great shape, but better than you were several years ago,” largely due to last summer’s large rate increase.
With the accounts trending towards a positive balance, council debated whether to stick to the original plan of a subsequent 4.75 percent increase in January.
With minimum customer payments stated to be $75, Councilperson Ruth Spaun said “We’ve got to be more fair to the people of Pomeroy,” and was adamant on a postponement.
“I agree, but at the risk of not paying our bills?” questioned Councilperson Maureen Hennesey.
A three percent annual rate raise for inflation is standard by the Village, but multiple increases in short succession, along with recent boil advisories, has generated a great deal of concern by Pomeroy residents.
Councilperson Victor Young suggested, in order to soften the blow to citizens, a postponement that would place the increases six months apart.
“I know will still probably have to do it eventually. But if we are headed in the right direction, could we wait? Since we did a big one just a bit ago, I hate to hit people again after just three months,” he said.
The council settled on a vote, to take place in January, on an amended ordinance which would delay the rate increase until spring.
Council passed a resolution for standard temporary January appropriations (prior to the 2017 budget). They also gave the Army Corp of Engineers permission in a parking lot project, and approved around $2,000 in expenses for winter vehicle equipment and police cruiser repair.
Mayor Bryan Shank told the council he had been approached by an individual interested in selling land for Beech Grove Cemetery. Shank said he had made clear to the individual the village had no money to pursue the offer, but agreed with Councilperson Young who said the offer and any information should be brought to the public’s attention, given that cemetery expenses are paid via levy.
There was no information provided on the search for a village administrator, as Shank said the current candidate were in contract negotiations.
Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.