Richwood Council votes to increase utility rates

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Richwood Council members have discussed the village’s aging water and sewer systems for years.
Both systems are 50 years and older and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested for years that the village needs to update its aging facilities.
During Monday’s regular council meeting, a unanimous vote was taken to increase the water and sewer rates beginning Jan. 1.
Rates have not been raised since Jan. 1, 2007, making the village rates some of the lowest in the state of Ohio. At that time, the rate was increased by $1.53 and the money was used to put in a new water line.
Records show that the sewer plant was built in the 1970s and the water plant was upgraded in the late 70s or early 80s.
The increases will put the water and sewer rates to a level that will make it possible to seek grant funds to help build a new water plant and rework the current sewer plant. With the low rates, the village did not qualify to apply for grants.
The new water rates, based on 2,000 gallons usage (the minimum) will be $22.52. Minimum usage of 2,000 gallons of wastewater charge will be $21.48, making the minimum rate for water and sewer a total of $44.00. Charges for an additional 1,000 gallons will increase to $4,25 for water and $5.16 for sewer. Over 5,000 gallons will be $35.27 for water and $36.96 for sewer, totaling $72.23 a month.
Council also added in the new rates and additional rate increase beginning July 1, 2020. Water rates will increase $1 on the 2,000 gallon base amount, making it $23.52. Addition 1,000 gallons increased 50 cents ($4.75) and 5,000 gallons will cost $37.77 for water rates. Sewer rates will be a base of 2,000 gallons of $22.48; an additional 1,000 gallon rate will be $6.41 and 5,000 gallons will cost $41.71, totaling $79.48.
If council had not passed the new rates at the meeting, the village may have to take out a 30-year loan to build a new water plant.
“Our plant is at the age that it needs to be replaced,” Village Administrator Monte Asher said. “Raising the rates helps us qualify for grant funding. If we take out a 30-year loan, we would be paying over $700,000 in interest during the course of the loan.”
A new water plant would also include soft water for residents. Most households have experience in replacing water heaters nearly every five or so years, due to the hardness of the water.
Mayor Scott Jerew expanded on the recent discovery that the roof had fallen in on the second floor of the former town hall/opera house, which was found during a recent tour of the building. Sarah Barr, who is involved in the reconstruction of the Avalon Theater in Marysville, toured the building with Jerew, when the damage was found. During a second tour, it was discovered that the second floor, most commonly known as the gymnasium, that under the basketball court is a concrete floor with concrete rafters. Also, it was found that the rafters were not secured together when the 1890 building was erected.
Asher told council that the village’s insurance company was going to come and assess the damage to the building and give council a second estimate.
The general consensus is to get the roof repaired before winter weather arrives, which could cost $100,000. Council could have a study of the building done to a cost of $6,400 or could have a feasibility study done, which would cost them $12,500.
The estimate to fix the building would cost somewhere between $3-5 million dollars. Grants are available for structures if the property owners are a non-profit.
Jerew also told council that he has a buyer for property on Ira Bean Parkway, consisting of five or more acres the village owns. The proposed buyer would like to install storage units on the property. Council members discussed that they would like to see a business coming in that would generate a tax base and jobs. After discussion, council decided it were not interested at this time of selling this piece of real estate.
In other business, council:
-Heard the contractor All in Ohe Construction will continue working on building the new shelter house near the beach in Richwood Park. Laying of concrete will be put off until spring, for warmer temperatures.
-Heard councilman Pat Morse asked when the new light poles will arrive and be installed. It’s been almost a month since they were returned to have electric added to the poles and it is getting dark earlier. Asher stated that the poles should be here after Thanksgiving. The company hopes to have them installed before mid December.
-Jerew told council his request for support from North Union School Board was mostly well-received regarding the possibility of a Resiliency Center being built in Richwood. Jerew asked the board if they would consider donating the ground on Norris Street, formerly the middle school, for the project. The school board will discuss it.
Council’s next meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.



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