Council discusses water rate hike, garbage

T-L Photo/LENNY WITTENBROOK Chad Sutton, left, takes the oath of office as a new member of Flushing Village Council. Administering the oath is Solicitor Chris Gagin.

FLUSHING — Village Council discussed a water rate hike and details of a garbage service bid package after approving the appointment of Chad Sutton as a new council member last week.

Sutton was sworn in Thursday by Village Solicitor Chris Gagin, filling the seat vacated on July 27 when Tom Bober resigned as mayor. Council president pro tem Angelo Vincenzo took Bober’s place as mayor, leaving an open seat.

Flushing resident John White appeared before council to announce he is running for Flushing Township trustee as a write-in candidate. He said that while he had been travelling around the area talking to people about his campaign, residents in Holloway had expressed concern about a tree lying across utility wires and out over Ohio 331 on Station Hill.

Vincenzo told White he was aware of the situation and that he had been “back and forth” with the telephone company responsible for the lines. He said he had been told it would take a disruption in service before any action would be taken.

When White asked Vincenzo about getting the state involved since the tree is on a right of way, Vincenzo said, “The state doesn’t want to mess with it because it’s on the line.”

White cautioned against putting a potentially deadly hazard “on the back burner.”

Following the meeting, Vincenzo said he would be making calls in an attempt to get the problem remedied.

Meanwhile, Fiscal Officer Jeryl McGaffick informed council that Belmont County would be increasing the rate it charges the village for water by 22 cents per 1,000 gallons starting Nov. 1.

She said she believed the village has an ordinance allowing for automatic yearly water and sewer rate increases and asked Village Solicitor Chris Gagin how to proceed with enacting an increase.

Gagin said the water department is regulated as an enterprise fund and, therefore, must pay for its own maintenance, improvements and for the increased cost of water to the village.

During the discussion that followed, it was discovered the ordinance in question does not contain language that would allow for the rate increase. Gagin said he would prepare an ordinance to increase monthly water and sewer rates by $1 each so council can hold first reading of the measure at its October meeting.

White inquired about the current balance of the village water and sewer fund. McGaffick told him the balance of the water operating fund stood at $412,857, while the sewer operating fund balance was $169,385. However, she said the village owes money on both of those funds. She explained that the village’s year-to-date revenue in water is $120,000 with expenditures of $118,000, not including the debt fund. She said the large balance is a result of carryover funds and that some of the money was set aside for capital expenditures in the event of a major line break or equipment failure.

In another matter, Vincenzo presented a draft bid package for the purpose of contracting a garbage disposal service for village residents. Some specifics of the bid request were discussed and debated and, after agreement was reached, it was decided that the bid request would be advertised and bids accepted until Nov. 2 so that they could be opened at the council meeting on Nov. 9.

The desire of village officials to regulate and restrict the operation of heavy garbage trucks on village streets has been a frequent topic of discussion at recent council meetings and Vincenzo was satisfied that progress had been made, saying, “We did exactly what I wanted to do. We got something accomplished with that, and we’re going to get it moving.”

Council voted to authorize Councilman Bryan Clark to negotiate with the Belmont County Land Reutilization Corp. concerning a possible secondary disposal site on village property at the bottom of Station Hill for debris from the Flushing School building once it is demolished. There was concern that if the planned disposal site, which is on private property outside the village, was unable to accommodate all the debris that the village be prepared with a back-up site should it be needed.

Village officials said the Downtown Day on Sept. 17, hosted by the Flushing Business Association, was a great success and that many had expressed interest in making it an annual event.

In other business, council voted to enter a contract with Clemans, Nelson & Associates, a legal firm specializing in human resources management, and set the village’s Halloween Trick-or-Treat for Tuesday October 31 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Council entered executive session to discuss personnel discipline, pay increases and hiring.