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Engineer’s Office wants to proceed on surface water utility

2/7/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — A Summit County Council committee heard more details on the county’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP) during the Feb. 4 meeting.

The Finance Committee heard from Steve Brunot, director of Administration for the Engineer’s Office, who briefly discussed that office’s willingness to move forward on plans to handle surface water in the county.

Brunot said the Engineer’s Office came before Council a year ago with some preliminary plans to establish a surface water utility in Summit County.

“We’re talking with the Executive’s Office about moving forward at this point,” Brunot said. “It is out there, and we are ready to go. We just need to finish a few things.”

While Brunot did not go into specifics this week, he told Council a year ago that the surface water utility would be overseen by the Engineer’s Office, County Council, the Executive’s Office and the Surface Water Management Board, which would be made up of nine members.

He also said at that time that county property owners would possibly be levied a fee based on how much impervious surface the property owner has. In addition, he had noted the possibility of two separate utility funds — one for the northern part of the county and one for the southern portion — because of different areas of water flow.

As for projects coming up this year, Brunot said one of the priorities is the Harington Road bridge project in South Akron for which the county is partnering with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

He added that another purchase planned this year is five loader scales that will help the department to better measure its usage of salt and other materials.

Also regarding the CIP, Mike Weant of the Department of Environmental Services talked about the projects in that department.

Councilman Bill Roemer (R-at large) noted that he and several Council members attended a meeting Jan. 22 in Norton regarding the need for sewers and asked Weant if there was any federal funding for such a project.

Weant said there is very little federal funding for new sewer projects today, and new projects do not qualify under the Ohio Public Works Commission for funding.

“Generally, about the best we can do is partner with somebody to get a grant of federal money administered by the state,” he said. But he added that usually the most that would be given is 50 percent toward a project.

In other business, the Public Works Committee recommended Council adopt a resolution allowing the Engineer’s Office to go out for bids on projects in its 2013 CIP, as well as vehicles and equipment, at a cost not to exceed $10.6 million.

The Planning and Economic Development Committee  also met and recommended Council adopt a resolution that will allow the county to advertise for bids for the jail heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrade project, which is anticipated to cost about $680,000.

Brian Clark, of the Physical Plant, said more efficient systems will allow the project to pay for itself in several years, as the savings are estimated to be about $70,000 a year.

County Council will next meet Feb. 11 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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