The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

Council authorizes bids for sewer project

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council adopted legislation on Monday authorizing Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming to seek bids for a $7.3 million sewer project that will, hopefully, allow the city to meet Ohio EPA requirements for combined sewer overflows.

Van Wert Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming shows the plans for a $6.6 million city sewer project during a City Council Finance Committee meeting on Monday. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Last year, the city increased sewer rates to help generate the needed revenues for the project, which Fleming said would be financed through a 20-year, zero-interest loan from an EPA-related agency. Water rates were also increased to deal with inflation-related cost increases.

The safety-service director noted that the project is expected to cost $6.6 million, but a 10-percent contingency fund is also included in the total to cover unexpected expenses.

The sewer project would include the construction of a 15-million-gallon concrete tank and retention pond where overflows would be channeled during heavy rainfalls in order to avoid flooding in the city. Fleming projected that construction work on the project would begin in May.

While the safety-service director said he can’t prove the project will allow the city to meet EPA standards of no more than four overflow incidents a year, he feels the project could accomplish that task.

“We have a lot of faith that this is going to do it for us,” Fleming told City Council.

“It’s a big project,” the safety-service director said, but also noted the project is cheaper than the approximately $30 million needed to totally replace the city sewer system — a project he said might also not meet EPA standards.

During her report, City Auditor Martha Balyeat noted January withholding city tax revenues were down $33,425.67 over last year, which she said was “a little concerning.” Balyeat added that, if the revenues represent 9 percent of total income tax revenues, which is usually the case for January, it could result in a shortfall of $400,000 in tax revenues overall.

Balyeat did note that the city is contracting with Capital Finance for collection of the approximately $300,000 in delinquent taxes currently owed by city residents.

Mayor Jerry Mazur talked about his recent visit with Japanese Consul-General Mitsuhiro Wada, noting the two had a positive talk about future economic ventures, as well as the consul-general’s interest in Van Wert’s Sister City relationship with Sumoto, Japan.

Health Service and Safety Committee Chair Bill Marshall reported on a meeting with Law Director John Hatcher and City Code Enforcement Officer Bill Lawson to increase the penalty for violating city codes from a four-degree misdemeanor, which includes a fine of up to $150, to an unclassified misdemeanor that would provide fines of up to $500.

Marshall said the increased fines were needed to deal with repeat code violators.

Legislatively, Council approved measures related to a pre-annexation agreement on property to be developed into a new city housing subdivision, as well as voting to prepare the city’s permanent budget ordinance. The measure needs to be adopted prior to April 1.

Council also adopted two salary measures that provide a 1-percent salary increase to police and fire department employees not covered by a bargaining unit. Approval of the ordinances came following an executive session on the subject.

Council also passed on third and final reading an ordinance amending the city zoning code.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, February 26, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 02/13/18 at 9:06 am. FILED UNDER: News