Plain City officials are recommending the village contract with Columbus for water and sewer services.
For nearly a year village officials have been exploring options for water and sewer service in the village. Initially, officials planned to study four options:
– doing nothing.
– repairing and remodeling existing facilities to current capacity.
– expanding capabilities at existing facilities.
– exploring the viability of contracting with the City of Marysville to provide water and sewer.
As the study, conducted by Columbus-based Prime AE, progressed, officials dropped the option of doing nothing as well as expanding capabilities at the current facilities. Also added to the study was the option of contracting with the City of Columbus for water and wastewater service.
At Monday night’s meeting, Village Administrator Kevin Vaughn said his recommendation to council would be to partner with the City of Columbus. He said it is, “a $191 million swing between Marysville and Columbus, to our benefit.”
He said he is basing his recommendation on the timing, the risk versus reward and the capacity fees.”
He said it is the capacity fees that are “the biggest thing.” The capacity fee is a one-time fee, charges to new customers when they connect to the water and sewer systems.
“There is no opportunity for us to get capacity fees with the City of Marysville. All capacity fees would be paid to them,” Vaughn said.
He said if the village provides its own water and sewer, or if the village partners with Columbus, the village would keep the capacity fees. He said that is where the $191 million dollar swing over 20 years comes from.
Vaughn said that in addition to allowing the village to keep those fees, water and sewer users would also see a savings by using Columbus over Marysville.
“Most everybody’s water is pretty similar. The wastewater is where it gets a little bit more expensive,” Vaughn said. “Marysville has significant wastewater charges. Actually, Columbus’ wastewater charges are a little less than ours.”
He said that over a 20-year period, Plain City water and sewer users would see about a $20 increase in their bills, if the village goes with Columbus.
“Marysville is significantly more expensive,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said the village building it’s own plants does not seem like a good option.
“Obviously, it looks like doing it ourselves is the absolute cheapest route to go, by far, and on paper it really is,” Vaughn said. “The challenge becomes after 20 years…what the numbers don’t show, there is a tremendous risk versus reward by us doing it ourselves.”
Vaughn said it would cost the village about $83 million to build water and wastewater facilities capable of handling anticipated capacity. He said that if the anticipated growth does not come, “the bank still needs their money.”
“Without users, (the debt service) would fall back on the taxpayers’ backs,” Vaughn said.
He added that the study does not include the probability that Plain City would likely need to purchase land to accommodate new, larger facilities.
Vaughn said he did not expect council to make a decision Monday on which option would be best, he did ask council to authorize him to “work with the EPA and change our service area agreement so that we can start working.”
Plain City will ask to expand utility services east of the village to the Franklin/Madison county lines, north to Currier Road and south to Price-Hilliards Road.
Vaughn said that as that area grows, the only way for Plain City to control the growth is to hold the water and wastewater service rights.
He said the village currently does not have those service rights. To get them, the village would need to work with the EPA to change its current 208 plan, the administrator explained.
“A 208 plan is basically a line in the sand of who gets to control what areas through utility services,” Vaughn said. “Currently, that area and areas south and north of us are not in our 208 plan.”
He said that none of the options are a possibility without changing the service area.
“So I can’t go out and sign an agreement with Columbus tomorrow even if you guys ask me to, until we change that 208 and we have an understanding of where that service area is going to be,” Vaughn said
He said that changing the service area would also change the footprint of the village.
“It is a requirement that once we provide water and sewer that they have to annex into the village,” Vaughn said.
Council member Jim Moore said that could be a problem.
“The township won’t want to give that up very easy,” Moore said.
Council unanimously authorized Vaughn to begin negotiating with the EPA on the service area plan. Council President John Rucker also scheduled a work session for council to discuss the options. The council work session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Monday, in the meeting room at the Pleasant Valley Joint Fire District.
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