MINGO JUNCTION - Village Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to bring in an ordinance increasing the capital improvement costs on sewer bills to pay for a state-mandated sewer-separation project.
Residents were paying $2 a month for capital improvements on their sewer bill but the cost jumped to $8 as a result of money the village has to pay for the Lincoln Avenue sewer project.
The village received a $2.4 million loan through the Ohio Water Development Authority to pay for an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency mandated project to separate about 3,000 feet of sewerage and stormwater lines on Lincoln Avenue. Water lines on Lincoln Avenue also will be replaced as part of the project. Streets will be repaired and paved in the work area.
The Ohio EPA wanted the separation of the sewer lines to prevent too much water from going into the sewer plant during heavy rains and causing an overflow into the Ohio River.
Construction on the project is ready to begin, said village Administrator Michael Maguschak.
The village will have to pay $135,000 ever year for 20 years on the 1 percent loan, said village Clerk John Angelica.
The extra capital improvement fee will generate about $153,000 a year.
Domenic Chappano, former village mayor, said at the beginning of the meeting that council was doing an injustice to residents by moving forward with the project. Chappano said there was a time when a group of municipalities objected to sewer separation projects because communities couldn't afford the pay the cost of the state-mandated project.
"You are nailing every resident of this town," he said.
Councilman Chuck Dickey said at a public hearing on Jan. 30 the village faced being fined by the Ohio EPA if the project wasn't started.
Councilman George Irvin Jr., chairman of the water and sewer committee, thanked residents for attending the public hearing and offering input and understanding of the project.
In other matters, it was announced the extreme winter weather has taken a toll on the village.
Maguschak said there are three current water line breaks. He said the village is expecting another shipment of 200 tons of salt today.
"Mother Nature has not been good to us," said village Mayor John Fabian.
The mayor thanked village employees in the water and sewer department, service department and police and fire for their extra work during the cold and snowy weather.
"You can just imagine what it is like to fix a water break when it is 5 or 10 degrees," he said.
Maguschak also announced the village will be applying for a state grant to fix a water break on the Lincoln Avenue bridge over state Route 7. A temporary fix was made to the line several weeks ago.
Maguschak received a quote of $46,300 from a contractor to fix the line.
Council also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Mingo Junction Safety Forces regarding concessions the police department gave up last year due to the financial condition of the village. The village administration restored the $400 a year clothing allowance and allowed the officers to get three holidays at time-and-a-half pay. Fabian said the restoration of the concessions will cost the village about $4,500.
The village is still negotiating with the service department employees, who are members of the Communication Workers of America Local 4527, on a contract.
Fabian also announced he elevated a part-time firefighter to full-time status to bring the village up to three full-time firefighters. Council approved the action.
Councilman James Morrocco asked if the list of delinquent water customers could be printed and displayed at the village building.
The persons on the list owe $124,000. Maguschak said most of those people are on a payment plan.
Irvin said he is against sharing the names of the people who are trying to pay back delinquent water bills.
Fabian said the majority of the delinquent accounts are for the prior bill, and those people are late in paying. He said a 10 percent penalty is assessed on the amount. He said only 14 names on the list owed a substantial amount of money.
Maguschak said the village will be advertising for assistant chief operators in both the water and sewer departments.
Council is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to continue to work on the budget. Council's recreation committee will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday with softball and baseball organizations to discuss use of village playing fields. The committee also will start work on Aracoma Park for the summer season.
Village resident Francis DiLoreto again complained about the FeX processing plant in the south end of the village on Commercial Avenue.
DiLoreto in January asked a committee of council members be appointed to study the complaints about noise and dust.
Fabian said he hasn't yet considered appointing a committee.
Maguschak said the police department about a month ago found no violations of village ordinances at the plant or the drivers of heavy trucks.