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Water rates increasing in Green

4/11/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

Construction to begin soon on educational wetland

GREEN — Green City Council agreed the administration negotiated the best deal possible but still expressed discomfort with approving an increase in water rates in Green.

Regardless, Council did approve a new four-year contract with AquaOhio at the April 9 meeting.

“We have to have water service,” said Councilman Chris Humphrey (at large). “Unfortunately, we are dealing with a monopoly.”

Customers will face a 3.5 percent rate increase each of the four years of the approved agreement.

“It is a significantly less increase than in the past three years, but it still is an increase,” said Councilman Gerard Neugebauer (at large).

Councilman Joel Reed (at large) explained the last contract between Green and AquaOhio allowed for a 5 percent increase the first year of the agreement and a 4.75 percent increase the second and third years.

AquaOhio President and CEO Ed Kolodziej Jr. was present at a public hearing March 23 to defend the requested rate increase.

He explained the rate hike is being driven by increased costs associated with running the business, including the price of chemicals for water treatment, power costs to run the pumps, labor agreements and capital improvements to the system.

In addition, Kolodziej said AquaOhio plans to make major investments in 2014 to the sludge lagoon, which is a repository for the lime used to soften the water.

AquaOhio also is earmarking $3.65 million for upgrades, specifically for expansions, to the system in the city during the period of the contract, he has explained.

“We are not going to get much better of a deal,” said Councilman John Summerville (Ward 4).

He did, however, cast the only “no” vote against the new contract, citing a displeasure with the company’s annual profit margins.

According to Reed, the city could have asked the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to determine the rate the city should pay.

He said PUCO does allow a water company to make an 8 percent net profit each year, though, and there is a cost associated with asking PUCO to make the determination.

“I am just not comfortable letting them make the decision for us, though,” Reed said.

Additionally at the meeting, Council heard the first reading of a resolution awarding a contract to Tucson Inc., of New Philadelphia, for the Steese Road Educational Wetlands Project, in the approximate amount of $268,000.

At the Finance Committee meeting, held prior to the regular meeting, Council further discussed the proposed project.

Humphrey said the city received a $100,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the construction of the wetland in front of Green Middle School at 1711 Steese Road.

City Engineer Paul Pickett said the wetland would enhance water quality in the city. He explained plant life would be introduced into the wetland, which would allow for water to collect in the area for a longer period of time, leaving sediment behind. This allows for much cleaner water downstream, he said. According to Pickett, water would filter in to four bay areas and flow in to the storm water system after pollution had been collected.

The city engineer said a walking trail would encircle the wetland, which also would include a section of boardwalk bridges over a portion of the area. A gazebo may be built in the future so individuals could stay dry while watching the wetland work during a rainstorm, as well, he said.

“The school is excited to integrate the wetland into their curriculum,” Pickett said.

The goal is to complete the majority of the project during the summer months, with construction to begin in May, he said.

Summerville specifically said he was excited about the project.

“I am now an advocate for clean water,” he said. “Being a steward of water is a big deal.”

Also during the regular meeting:

  • Council heard the second reading of a resolution authorizing the city to sell property located at 4810 Massillon Road to Scott Plummer.
  • Council heard the second reading of a resolution awarding a contract to Northstar Asphalt for the South Arlington Resurfacing Project, which includes Nimisila Road to the city’s southern corporate limits.
  • Out of respect for a petition initiative, Council heard the second reading of a resolution authorizing the submission of a proposed charter amendment to the voters to create a new section of the city charter authorizing the expenditure of up to $10 million for infrastructure improvements to the CAK International Business Park Phase III and IV, requiring the installation of storm water, road, water, industrial pretreatment and sanitary sewer, grading and landscaping and further designating the source of funds for the payment of infrastructure.
  • In keeping with a petition initiative, Council heard the second reading of a resolution authorizing the submission of an issue to the voters to authorize the abolishment of municipal utility districts.
  • Council held an executive session to review a recent work evaluation for Council Clerk Molly Kapeluck.
  • Council approved a resolution authorizing the city to accept a transfer of lot 33 in the Mystic Pointe subdivision and further authorizing the city to transfer lot 33 to Scott and Sharon Durbin in exchange for lot 35.
  • Council heard the third reading of an ordinance changing the zoning classification of property containing approximately 2.48 acres of land at 1860 and 1870 Graybill Road from R-1 (Single-Family Residential) to B-1 (General Business). A public hearing on the legislation is scheduled for April 23 at 7:05 p.m. at the Central Administration Building (CAB), 1755 Town Park Blvd.

In other city business, Council tentatively is collecting names of those wishing to fill an opening on the Audit Committee.

Additionally, Mayor Dick Norton announced a groundbreaking ceremony recently took place for the construction of an Infinity dealership, to be part of the Green Auto Mile on South Arlington Road.

The next regular Council meeting is set for April 23 at 5 p.m. with committee meetings and at 7 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers at the CAB.

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