After much discussion, the water rate hike and surcharge passed its third and final reading during Plain City’s recent village council meeting.
Citing the alleviation of deficits, and the preparation for future costs, council voted that the sewer rate should be increased 10 percent each year for the next three years (2014, 2015, 2016), the water rate should be increased 5 percent for that same time period and a surcharge of $10 per month, per household, should be tacked on to each bill through 2016.
The surcharge may not last that long, however. The surcharge is directly tied to the costs owed on a loan from the Environmental Protection Agency for the building of the village’s current water and sewage plant. New council members Leslie Perkins and Colleen Davis expressed concerns about the surcharge.
“How dire is it we do this surcharge now?” Perkins asked. “There are single moms and senior citizens we have to consider.”
“If we don’t put the surcharges on the February bill, nothing happens,” said council member Bob Walter, who also sits on the Personnel and Finance committee said. “But come June, we’ll be looking at $20 per month surcharge, because we have a fixed amount owed at the end of every year.”
Davis seemed unswayed.
“I’m not sure we can make a decision without all of the facts,” she said.
Mayor Sandra Adkins said that is how the village arrived at this point.
“That’s how it’s been for years — let’s wait and hope next year is better. And that’s how we’ve found ourselves here,” Adkins said. “You can make whatever decisions you’d like but we’ll still have this loan payment to pay for at the end of the year.”
President pro tem Shawn Kaeser responded, saying, “We have to bite the bullet. It’s hard. But it’d be harder at the end of the year when we have to pay the debt and have to cut services or employees in order to pay for it.”
In the end, the yeas outweighed the nays, with only Perkins and Davis voting against the water rate hike and the $10 surcharge.
The new rates may go into effect as soon as Feb. 1.
In other business:
• Council member Jim Moore volunteered to head a committee to look into restoring and repairing the clock tower on the corner of Main and Chillicothe streets.
“I’ve spoken with a number of people interested in working on this.” Village administrator Kevin Vaughn said of the repairs needed to the village’s icon. “It’s going to be quite extensive. My guess is that the clock will have to be removed from the building, restored, and placed back on.”
• Chief Jim Hill told council that the Plain City police department has a 2014 Ford Police Interceptor on order. The vehicle will replace the force’s aging Dodge Durango.
• Kaeser and the parks committee will be exploring a recommendation toward official guidelines as to how citizens and volunteers can donate work or items for park use without running into disputes with the village.