Council hears update on water system issues

By Michael Hart - Special to the Sentinel

POMEROY — The marquee item of Pomeroy Council’s June 5 meeting was an extended presentation by members of the C.I. Thornburg company, offering their services to assist with the village’s troubled water system.

At the invitation of Village Administrator Joe Woodall, Jeremy McComas and John Abshire described their company’s expertise “Helping primarily small and medium municipalities with water projects,” including reduction of water loss and streamlining billing systems.

As the primary speaker, McComas outlined options to address the high percentage of unmetered water, including sampling of water meters, upgrades to metering systems, billing audits, and calibration of equipment in the treatment facility.

Through a variety of loans and bond options, the projects could be financed off savings brought by better data and increased accuracy, which would result in higher revenue, according to McComas.

Woodall said some of the costs associated with working with Thornburg would be incurred in any case, as “90 percent of our meters have less than four years remaining” on life expectancy. He also said a substantial number of current meters were likely recording inaccurately because of adverse water conditions that had damaged the meters’ internals.

“We’re committed to finding the loss,” said Councilperson Phil Ohlinger, referring to the 68 percent water loss found in a 2016 report previously discussed by council. The report was completed by the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP).

“We promised people of Pomeroy when we raised rates we would address this. I’m liking what I’m hearing so far,” stated Ohlinger.

Council officially requested a proposal, which McComas estimated would require 2-3 weeks.

In other business, police department representative Jim Webster told council of the department’s intention to replace patrol car number 12 due to age.

“It has over 100,000 miles on it, and we’d like to replace it before it becomes a money pit,” he said, noting many of the gauges no longer function.

The department will acquire the substitute vehicle from a government equipment auction, and Webster said he anticipated securing a low mileage/low idle-hours patrol car for approximately $7,000.

That money will come from the Police Department’s fund, though council did approve travel expenses, the cost of a striping kit, and mechanic hours.

Car number 12 will likely become the code enforcement vehicle, allowing the department to retire the current “nearly undrivable” vehicle and convert it to spare parts.

Fiscal Officer Sue Baker said the state’s two-year audit of the village would begin shortly, and Councilperson Maureen Hennessy expressed confidence the results would be an improvement over previous audits due to Baker’s presence.

Baker confirmed an increase in use of state preferred electronic tools, improvement of village filing systems, and better paper trails from various departments, would all contribute to that goal.

“We just have better records,” than during previous audits, Baker said.

The council took a firm stance on a dilapidated property reported by a Pomeroy resident, as Council President Don Anderson directed the property owner be given notice or face fines after the village cleaned the area itself.

The move followed previous discussions by council that determined more active code enforcement to be in the best interest of the village.

Council concluded with a 20 minute executive session to discuss personnel matters in the police department.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of Pomeroy Village Council is June 19 at 7 p.m. in the Pomeroy Municipal Building. A Parks and Recreation meeting will be held prior, at 6 p.m.

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.