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Mingo may turn off the lights

Council talks with AEP about ways to save money on lighting

September 26, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

MINGO JUNCTION -Village Council heard Tuesday from a representative of AEP about turning off streetlights as a way to save money.

James Huggins Jr. of AEP said the village is paying for 579 streetlights throughout town.

There was a clarification about a statement made at the last council meeting that the village spends $70,000 a year on streetlights. Clerk John Angelica said the $70,000 includes all outdoor lights in the village, including lights outside the water and sewer plants. Angelica said the village spends about $50,000 a year just on streetlights.

Huggins said AEP upon notification by the village to proceed, will place caps over the light sensors for six months that will not allow the streetlights to come on. The village at any time during the six months can change its mind about turning off the lights and the cap be removed. Huggins said AEP at the end of six months will begin the process of physically removing the lights from poles.

Huggins said the village will have to pay about a $17 monthly fee for each streetlight that is turned off during the six-month period. Huggins said AEP loses money on streetlights in communities. He said the cost of taking down the lights from poles is actually greater than that $17-per-month fee.

Huggins said residents can request AEP at the end of the six-month period to install a different type of light on poles where streetlights are located. He said streetlights focus the light beam on the street. The other lights that residents can ask to be installed will shine light in a more circular pattern, he said. The cost to the homeowner will be $10 a month.

Councilman Jack Brettell suggested the village charge residents the $5 monthly fee the village currently pays AEP for each streetlight, plus an administrative fee.

Angelica said the village should not want to get into that type of billing.

"In a year you will find it to be a nightmare," said Village Solicitor Ernest Wilson.

Councilman James Morrocco said the village will have to be selective in choosing which lights are to be turned off.

Council's streetlight committee now will begin the process of identifying which lights to turn off.

Also, Village Administrator Frank Fuscardo said he is in discussions with a company to install a garbage transfer station, similar to what Wintersville has, to reduce the expense of transporting the garbage to a landfill. He said it also will free up village workers to do other tasks.

Fuscardo said he had an initial meeting with representatives of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Partnership to discuss combining the water and sewer departments into a utility department.

Fuscardo said such a move could save the village $300,000 a year, or the cost of one loan payment for the village's water plant, by cutting the number of employees from 11 to six.

Council will meet at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 4 at the Municipal Building with representatives of the Ohio Water Development Authority about restructuring the village's $600,000 per-year loan payment for the water plant.

The village is in jeopardy of not generating enough funding to make the loan payment with the closing of the RG Steel plant, which was once the village's largest purchaser of water.

The meeting on Oct. 4 will be followed by a council finance meeting and a water board meeting.

The water board will discuss the possibility of billing residents monthly for water bills.

Fuscardo said he is working with Cattrell Cos., the contractor, and CT Consultants, the engineering consultant, to get the issue of obtaining state permits resolved for the splash pad. Fuscardo said the cost of the splash pad has reached $290,000. He said the permits will be obtained and the splash pad will be opened next summer.

Council also approved an ordinance regulating parking RVs and boats in the village after taking no action after the third reading of the ordinance on Sept. 11.

Fire Chief John Wright asked council to reconsider the ordinance because of problems in enforcing the current regulations, which are more strict.

Under the approved ordinance, residents wouldn't be allowed more than two boats or RVs. The boats and RVs would not be allowed to be parked on the street and would have to be parked in the rear or side of the residence and no closer than 5 feet from a property line.

Council also agreed to bring in an ordinance to enter into a contract with GeoStar Professionals of Westerville for a study on reducing electric costs in the village. The company will analyze current equipment and make recommendations for reducing costs.

Council also set trick-or-treat hours from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.

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