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Springfield residents seeking rate relief

5/29/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Shown from left are the recipients of the Springfield Township Time Warner Cable Franchise Scholarship award: Brendon Howiler, Jenna Dray and Rachel Mealy.
Photo: Maria Lindsay
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield resident Francine Gasper, along with a number of other residents, continued to ask the Springfield Board of Trustees during the May 22 meeting for help in dealing with “excessive’ rates being charged to suburban residents for water provided by the City of Akron and sewer services provided by Summit County.

“We are being burdened with excessive charges, more than residents of the City of Akron pay for the same,” said Gasper. “I don’t understand why this is being allowed to happen.”

Gasper said she has talked with officials from the City of Akron and Summit County Department of Environmental Services (DOES) regarding the matter. She added she has learned an Akron resident pays $40 per month for water compared to a suburban customer’s $96 charge for water.

She said Akron officials have told her she can have a meter installed at her own cost to possibly reduce her bill, but the cost of the meter is $360 and the installation is estimated to be about $200.

“In addition, we have gotten notice of a 27 percent increase coming in January as the City of Akron deals with mandated improvements to their water system,” she said.

Trustee Dean Young said, “I feel your pain and I understand your frustration.”

Young said Springfield trustees have been meeting with both county and city officials to discuss the matter. He said those meetings have yielded information to show that suburban residents without meters are being charged a flat rate, regardless of actual use, and that flat rate is based on an “outdated” amount of water an average family uses that he said studies show is “far more than actual.”

In addition, Young said trustees have learned through those discussions the water and sewer rate, established in 1957, is “Akron plus 30 percent,” meaning suburban customers pay 30 percent on top of what Akron customers pay. Young said bills actually show more than a 30 percent difference between Akron and suburban customers because of the inflated base rate based on the average amount of water used.

Young said none of the original officials that established these rates is still around to explain this “excessive charge.”

He also said they have learned while the county paid to install the sewer system and is responsible for its maintenance, the City of Akron is collecting payments for its use because it oversees treatment of effluent.

Young said trustees have learned Akron officials have stated they are willing to finance the cost of a water meter and its installation over the course of one year to help residents get water meters, which should reduce their bills.

Gasper said she is a breast cancer survivor and has been told these meters are “smart” meters that emit harmful radiation. She also said she wants to know where the “excessive” revenue the City of Akron has been collecting for decades from suburban customers has gone.

City of Akron officials did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.

DOES Director Mike Weant said the department serves 951 customers in Springfield, as well as 4,227 in Green, 2,403 in Coventry and 654 in Lakemore.

Summit County Councilwoman Paula Prentice (D-District 8) said city and county officials have been working on the matter for more than one year.

Also at the meeting, trustees approved an Emergency Action Plan for the breaching of Tritts Mill Dam, as required by Summit County officials, and approved the purchase of the 2014 ammunition order for the Police Department, totaling $2,832, not including shipping.

Trustees also gave the owner of 987 Mohawk Trail a 60-day extension from the Zoning Department regarding needed improvements to the home. The home came under review during plans for its demolition, and trustees had granted an initial extension based on plans to refurbish the home.

In other business at the meeting, trustees awarded $1,000 scholarships to three Springfield High School seniors who are recipients of the Springfield Township Time Warner Cable Franchise Scholarship award. They are Jenna Dray, Brendon Howiler and Rachel Mealy.

Trustees move into the summer meeting schedule for June, July and August, with only one scheduled meeting planned on the second Thursday of the month.

The next trustees’ meeting will take place June 12 starting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 2459 Canfield Road.

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