Water rates discussed by Pomeroy Council, again

By Michael Hart - Special to the Sentinel

POMEROY — Pomeroy Village council held a three hour meeting of Monday night, splitting time between ongoing utilities discussion and new business.

Council directed Fiscal Officer Sue Baker to draft a replacement of Ordinance 753, which determines the use of water and sewer fees. The current ordinance is not explicit whether the collected money should go towards debt payments or capital improvements, a situation Baker said was not allowed under the Ohio Revised Code.

The fees are currently applied towards the Village’s sewer debt payments ($8,000 year), but Baker asked they be redirected to water debt instead ($130,000 year).

“We are making a conscious decision to pay down debt rather than save for capital improvements,” said Councilperson Phil Ohlinger.

His comment reflecting the council’s discussion that preferred putting money in the empty capital improvement fund, but found that path not feasible with such a high level of debt.

Council President Don Anderson initiated a conversation about ongoing confusion related to summer 2016’s water rate increases.

The ordinance’s wording raised rates on bills generated after August 1, 2016, which would include water usage in the previous July and caught some customers off guard.

Councilperson Ruth Spaun asserted credits were given to customers that complained or requested relief, though such measures by the water office were not approved by council. Audience members in previous meetings have also asserted rebates were applied.

Andersen suggested a small, flat credit could be given to all village customers to address any unfairness.

However, council discussion calculated even a nominal amount of $10 to each of the village’s approximately 800 customers would drain $8,000 from the water system finances. Calculating the impact of the increase on each bill to give specific rebates was determined to be logistically impossible.

Despite Anderson’s stated hope for a resolution that night, a lengthy dialogue did not yield any measures.

More on Monday’ meeting will appear in the Thursday edition of The Daily Sentinel.

By Michael Hart

Special to the Sentinel

Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.

Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.