An ordinance was put before City Council to raise water rates 35% over three years.
The increase is needed to pay for needed repairs to the water tower on Scarff Rd.
“The interior is in good shape,” said City Public Works Director Howard Kitko. “It’s just that nothing has been done to the inside for over 30 years, and it needs to be done.”
Kitko said that the best offer the city has received is from a company who will refinish the tower, and maintain it for six years.
“If it needs repainted in three years, they will do it, and it won’t cost us any more,” said Kitko. The price tag is $115,000 per year for three years.
He said the next best offer was $500,000 to refinish the tower with a one year guarantee.
“If it needed repainted in three years, we would have to pay for it,” he said.
Current water rate is $7.28 for each thousand gallons of water used. That would increase to $8.74 per thousand gallons in April, 2017; $9.61 per thousand gallons in April, 2018 and $10.09 per thousand gallons in April, 2019.
“Has every option been explored,” asked Council Member Rick Lowrey. “I don’t think it has.” He added, “If I knew it hadn’t been touched in 32 years, I’d be drinking bottled water.”
Council Member William Lindsey added, “a 35% increase is asinine.”
City Manager Randy Bridge assured council that the city administration had investigated every possible option, but that he was open to other ideas.
Council Member Ethan Reynolds suggested that the ordinance be tabled, pending public discussion.
He was advised that action on the ordinance would not be taken until the March 6 meeting, which also includes the annual Town Hall meeting.
“I specifically planned this so the ordinance would be voted on during the Town Hall meeting,” said Bridge.
Since the council meeting will be held before the Town Hall meeting, council voted to move consideration of the ordinance to the Town Hall portion of the meeting.
Council was also presented an emergency ordinance to allow the City Manager to contract for environmental studies of the Belle Manor facility before it is turned over to the City.
The current owners of Belle Manor have offered to donate the facility to the city after their residents have been relocated at Dayview.
At the February 6 council meeting, Council Member Rick Lowrey asked Bridge to see if the current owners would pay for the $6,000 study, and Bridge said that he would ask them.
At the February 21 meeting, Lowrey asked if Bridge got a response to the letter.
“There has been no response,” said Bridge, “because I haven’t sent it.”
Bridge said that he is “walking on eggshells,” and that if the letter is not worded correctly, the current owners could back out of the deal.
Reynolds made a motion that the ordinance be tabled until Bridge sends the letter. That motion failed by a vote of 2-4.
The ordinance also failed by a vote of 4-2. (Since it was an emergency ordinance, it had to pass by at least five votes.) Reynolds and Lindsey were the only council members voting against the ordinance.
“You have just delayed the process by two weeks,” said Bridge after the ordinance failed. “Failing this ordinance makes no sense,” Bridge added. “It’s going to make us look like ungrateful, greedy people.”
“Council told you to write the letter and you didn’t,” said Reynolds. “That’s the only reason I voted no.”
Lowrey, who had originally suggested that the letter be sent, voted to approve the ordinance.
In other action, Council approved a resolution to strongly oppose Governor Kasich’s proposed 2017-2018 budget. That budget would put the State in charge of collecting tax revenue for local governments.
“The state wants to take the money, make a bunch of interest, then charge us to get out money back,” said Bridge.
He added, “The state has a lot of money in the bank, but they’re strangling the local governments.”
Fire Chief Steve Trusty announced that, thanks to the generosity of the community, he has raised over $13,000 to purchase a Lucas Tool for the Fire Department.
A Lucas Tool is a device to automatically perform perfect CPR indefinitely, freeing up EMS personnel to tend to a patient’s other needs.
The next meeting of the New Carlisle City Council will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 6 at the Smith Park Shelter House. That meeting will be immediately followed by the annual Town Hall meeting. The public is invited to attend.