|Water issues dominate city council session|
|Wednesday, February 06, 2013 3:07 PM|
BY GREG SCHERGER
Council also heard but took no action on first reading to legislation providing for a fund transfer from the General Fund to the Police & Fireman’s Pension funds to bring the specified funds from a deficient position in accordance with recommendation from the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office; and to amend the Police and Fire Pensions Funds in accordance with IRS regulations. The new requirements directs a tax-deferred amount of 10.75 percent on employee contributions to the fund to be channeled through a payroll deduction by the City to the Ohio Pension fund for the affected employees.
Mayor Michael Gallmeier presented plaques to three recently retired city fire and/or EMS volunteers, thanking each for their extensive records of service, including: Dennis Hageman, 44 years; Bob Jettinghoff, 27 years; and Paul Carder, 26 years.
City Safety Service Director Greg Berquist advised council that work continues on the 2013 budget; however, a date for a finance committee meeting to review the progress was not yet set.
Berquist also advised council that Police Chief Kyle Fittro is investigating the possibility of purchasing another new cruiser for the city to replace an aging unit. Maintenance costs on existing cruisers have become a factor due to high mileage and breakdowns. Fittro is investigating a lease-to-own proposal for a new cruiser, providing for city ownership within three years of the initial possession.
Berquist also advise that maintenance of the water treatment plant system continues with cleaning of membrane units within the structure to extend their useful life and provide proper filtration. Prompted by Councilman Hanser, Berquist noted that the proposed Cass Street waterline improvement documentation has been forwarded to the EPA and is now pending approval before further construction steps can be taken. The proposed water line will utilize an easement along the railroad tracks just south of the Bunge NA facility.
Regarding the proposed Gressel Drive water loop project, Berquist indicated the Community Improvement Corporation is taking possession of a parcel of land necessary for the infrastructure expansion and that action will significantly reduce the overall project expected cost from $140,000 to $80,000 as the city will only need to obtain an easement through the property owned by the CIC. Auditor Tom Jettinghoff suggested that funding for the waterline project be secured through a loan rather than direct payment to limit the impact to the city budget.
Jettinghoff also reviewed with council the present and projected water and sewer fund balances, noting that the balance for the water fund is projected to diminish to just over $100,000 by the end of 2013 and $49,000 by the end of 2015. The decrease is due in part to loss of revenue, despite a cost of living adjustment to billing, and the need to address existing debt. Jettinghoff indicated he was “not comfortable” with the projected account balance within two years.
The sewer fund has also experienced a decline in revenue although expected to increase slightly in the next few years. Despite the increase, the fund balance is projected at $778,000 through 2013 and dropping to $245,000 at the end of 2015. Jettinghoff noted that the projected figures for the sewer fund do not include the potential high cost impact the city would face if replacement of membranes in the water treatment plant filtration system is required.